A NEW bar in the heart of Romsey could shake-up the town with a fresh design for the front of the building, plans have revealed.

After shutting in 2019, the Santander branch at 14 Market Place is expected to be given a new lease of life after it is transformed into a cocktail dining lounge.

In a nod to the former bank, the bar will be called The Exchange and is set to open this year.

The proposals, tabled by the owner Naomi Randall, could see heat lamps and three outdoor lights added to the Grade II listed building if given the go-ahead on Tuesday (February 23).

Romsey Advertiser: What the front of the bar could look likeWhat the front of the bar could look like

Test Valley Borough Council's (TVBC) Southern Area Planning Committee will decide if a hand-painted sign and fabric awning will be allowed as part of the application.

However, the plans have already caused a stir in Romsey Town Council (RTC) with the local authority objecting to the frontage over concerns it will dominate part of the Market Place used by pedestrians.

In a document to TVBC, the town council said: "No pedestrian walkway is left between the building frontage and the tables, as is currently the case with other cafes that have a licence to place tables and chairs on Hampshire County Council's attractive pedestrianised piazza."

RTC stressed the fabric awning is "overbearing", adding if permission is granted it should be "folded away" when not in use.

Romsey Advertiser: What the bar could look like with the awningWhat the bar could look like with the awning

Criticising the heat lamps, RTC believes the devices will "use a large amount of power", branding them as "not environmentally-friendly" and "unsustainable".

One resident who lives in Greatbridge Road, Clive Collier, objected to the plans over the heat lamps and the applicant's aim to change the colour of the building.

He said: "To mount two infrared heaters and spotlights to the fascia would be inappropriate; [it] would glare in the faces of those walking in the Market Place [and is] totally out of keeping on a listed building.

"The front of this building has been painted white for many years and to now change the whole colour to 'railings' would result in a change to the character of the area."

This comes after Ms Randall told the Advertiser it is a "dream come true" for her to open a venue in her hometown.

She said she wanted to offer "something a little different" to customers, adding: "The Exchange will be a great place for people who are looking for a new experience, with interesting food, exciting cocktails and a buzzing atmosphere."

The owner previously she was expecting to open the bar in late January, but understood this date could change depending on coronavirus restrictions.

The Exchange will serve British and Mediterranean dishes from brunch through to dinner.

Beers and wines will also be sold at the bar, which can be enjoyed alongside live music and experience events.