WINCHESTER’S former pumping station will soon be open to the public, as an entrepreneurial couple seek to turn it into a “sophisticated grocery store”.

Alex Donnan and Laura Turner have applied for a premises licence for The Pump House, in Garnier Road, St Cross, to transform it into a store with a café.

The pair are the co-founders of the General Store Winchester, in The Square.

Alex said: “I have always a huge admirer of The Pump House and been super keen if it had become available, in any capacity, to see if there was anything we could do with it.

“I was quite keen to get it open to the public because it is such a stunning building and there are a lot of interesting things inside.”

Alex said that when the building became available it was an opportunity for an “edge of town, upmarket farm shop”.

He continued: “It will be similar to what we already have but a slightly bigger format. It will definitely not be a bar or nightclub as some suggestions have been.”

The premises licence application states that the opening hours will be 7am to 8pm Sunday to Thursday, and 7am to 10pm Friday and Saturday. However, Alex has said that the offering will not be open as long, he continued: “The Pump House’s opening hours are less than what the premises licence we have submitted. We have only done it for flexibility, the likelihood is we are going to close at 6pm.”

Alex told the Chronicle that the application did not allow them to provide enough information to detail their plans.

The application has sparked criticism from residents living nearby and others in the city who have raised concerns about the Victorian building becoming a late-night venue.

Alex said that the couple, who live in St Cross, want to add to the area, rather than introduce something that would detract from it.

He added: “Hopefully, this will give residents some reassurance. We live in St Cross, we are not someone from out of the city who might not care. We want to work with locals.”

Even if the application is not granted the store will still open, possibly in late November, but it will not be able to sell bottled alcohol or play music.

Alex added: “We are still going to open, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all, it will be very nice to be able to sell bottles of wine from the South Downs region but if we don’t it’s not going to stop us from opening.”

Alex said that the General Store will remain in the city centre and the Pump House will be its second store to open.

The Pump House was bought earlier this year by Winchester College, for an undisclosed sum, after it was no longer needed by Southern Water. It had been offices for public relations firms in recent years.

To view the application, go to