A NEW bar is gearing up to open in the centre of Romsey in January, the Advertiser understands.

After shutting last year, the former Santander branch at 14 Market Place is expected to be revamped into a cocktail dining lounge.

In a nod to the former bank, the bar will be called The Exchange where customers can enjoy 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.

Romsey Advertiser: The former Santander bank at the start of this yearThe former Santander bank at the start of this year

Owner, Naomi Randall, said: "It is a dream come true for me to be opening a venue in my hometown.

"Romsey is growing all the time and is increasingly busy with both daytime lunchers and evening drinkers. There’s a good range of places to go, but I wanted to offer something a little different.

"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."

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The 35-year-old added: "If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt from the pandemic, it’s how much we value being with family and friends.

"Before the lockdown, a quick coffee with a friend or a night out was something that we took for granted. I think we all now realise the importance of freedom and social contact.

"I’ve deliberately chosen to open early next year so we can celebrate what we hope will be a better year, reunite with the people we care about, and start to have fun again.”

Naomi added the bar is expected to fling its doors open to the public in late January, however this could change depending on the restrictions in place after the second national lockdown draws to a close on Wednesday, 2 December.

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The landlord of the new bar and director of Brightbeech Property Limited, Tim Lincoln, said: "We are delighted to have let this property to The exchange.

"We had several offers to lease this building, but we were keen to secure a new tenant who will add to the vibrancy of the new piazza area. I am confident that the plans that Naomi has for this building will do just that."