A HAMPSHIRE supermarket has reopened after standing empty for a year.

The former Budgens store in High Street, Lyndhurst, has been taken over by Tesco in a move that has created 21 jobs in the village.

Budgens - a former cinema - closed in February last year.

The husband-and-wife team who had run the business for 14 years said rising costs and a drop in trade had forced them to shut when their lease expired.

Now the store - one of the biggest units in the High Street - has become a Tesco.

Manager Ben Smith said: "Although it's been a difficult time for many we’re hugely excited to be opening our Lyndhurst Express store.

“It will provide a real boost for the New Forest, helping to employ and train local people."

Referring to the pandemic he added: "The safety of our customers and colleagues is our number one priority and we’ve ensured social distancing measures are put in place to ensure everyone is kept safe."

A raft of improvements have been made to the 90-year-old building.

The New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) approved proposals to upgrade the property by installing a cashpoint, an automatic entrance door and four anti-ram bollards.

The application said: "The shopfront proposals will remove a number of features considered to be out of character with the wider area.

“The proposed ATM will be largely hidden from views along the High Street due to its set back position and is thus not considered to have an adverse impact on Lyndhurst Conservation Area.

“The alterations will allow a more efficient layout, ultimately providing additional space for storage and the display of goods.”

A report to NPA members added: "The building forms part of a terrace of commercial properties and lies within the conservation area and the primary shopping frontage.

"It originates from the 1930s and whilst the majority of buildings in the locality are either listed or locally listed, the application building is not of any notable historic or vernacular interest.

"It was originally built as a cinema but has had a long standing retail use with residential accommodation above."