A family-run farm shop and café on the western edge of the New Forest is being opened with new occupiers.

Husband-and-wife owners Neil and Corinna Rogers opened the Fordingbridge Farm Shop on Whitsbury Road, Fordingbridge, on Wednesday, May 10.

The site had lain vacant for some time after the exit of an unrelated previous business.

The Fordingbridge couple said the opportunity to transform the premises into a thriving retail and entertainment hub for the countryside town was too good to miss.

Neil has given up his job in the aeronautical engineering industry to focus on making Fordingbridge Farm Shop a success, with seven jobs already created.

He said: “We have a lot of plans for the shop, café and Mediterranean-style courtyard, with calendar events, music sessions, street food markets, barbecue burger nights, a Friday and Saturday evening bar, cooked breakfasts, locally sourced food, award-winning pies, freshly baked bread and high-quality butchers.

“Customers can be assured of a warm welcome, with reasonable prices in keeping with the budget expectations of families here in Fordingbridge and the countryside villages beyond.”

A secured children’s outdoor play area is also being built.

Neil said: “Fordingbridge has been crying out for a something like this on the north side of the settlement, away from the high street and catering for all ages at different times of the day.

“Along with working families, including school-run parents, there are retirees who will enjoy the courtyard experience and the convenience of a shop with daily essentials without having to trek or drive into town.”

There are also plans to cater for the cycling community because of the rural rides nearby, Neil added.

Corinna, a physiotherapist, said: “During the pandemic we used to walk past the farm shop as it was being constructed, and always remarked ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if we could be in there one day?’

“Neil didn’t hang around when he saw a Vail Williams advert two months ago about the premises being available to let – he arranged a viewing in double-quick time and here we are with the lease signed.

“We are incredibly grateful to Vail Williams for making the lease deal such a smooth process – there were no hiccups, allowing us to focus on stocking the farm shop and kitting out the courtyard; we are expecting the courtyard festoon lights any day now, making great memories as customers chat, eat, drink and dance evenings away.”