PLANS to open a new cafe with an accompanying flat in Fordingbridge town centre have been put forward.

The application for the currently unoccupied premises at 6 High Street, which was previously used as a bank, has been submitted to New Forest District Council (NFDC).

The proposals seek to change the use of the commercial space to operate as a cafe/restaurant and convert the loft into a one-bedroom flat.

To accommodate the flat above the commercial space, the applicants seek to build a pitched roof over the existing flat roof.

Fordingbridge Town Council supports the application, stating in response to the scheme that it will "provide a welcome use of current empty space for a commercial venture with the

addition of living space".

The applicants, Mark and Adrienne Tollman, who live in nearby Breamore, have owned the property since 2015.

After refurbishing the site for commercial and residential use, the couple say they have been unable to find a long-term tenant for the commercial section of the premises.

Permission was given earlier this year to run a beauty salon at the property, but after a short period this fell through in March.

Mr and Mrs Tollman say they feel the only way to get the building back into use is by making an investment themselves, which comes with a "high level of personal financial risk".

In a statement supporting their application, Mr and Mrs Tollman say: "We propose to design the commercial interior to reflect a high-end style, similar to look and feel to Framptons in Ringwood - bearing in mind that this will be a day time coffee shop as opposed to an evening wine bar venue.

"The existing cafes and tea rooms in Fordingbridge do not offer the type of environment or ambiance that we are proposing.

"The coffee shop should be available to all, so it will encompass disabled access and toilet facilities.

"We hope the venue will contribute to an invigorated town centre, and be supported by the local community."