A NOTORIOUS nightspot in Ringwood that closed after it was stripped of its licence last year is to be reopened under new ownership as a piano bar.

Shelly Butcher and Sean Bartlett have fought “tooth and nail” to secure a licence and open the Metro Lounge and Piano Bar in place of the former Legends Cue and Sports Club in the Market Place.

The former members’ club closed its doors after it lost its late licence following incidents of fighting, threatening behaviour and swearing near the premises.

Now the club has undergone a £40,000 transformation to create a sophisticated venue, complete with a baby grand piano, for over 25s.

A temporary events licence from the district council means the club can open between 11am and 11.30pm, with an extension on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

The conditions attached to the licence include having two doormen each night until January 2 and the installation of CCTV.

Former flight attendant Ms Butcher said: “I am excited and petrified at the same time. We have worked very hard and fought tooth and nail to secure our licence and to reopen. Now we are almost there.

“It has been difficult to prove we are something very different, but we are almost there.

“We have met all our neighbours and they have come and had a look to see what we are doing here and they are pleased that we are opening something sophisticated.”

It was a holiday in Marrakech that gave the Ringwood couple the idea.

Ms Butcher said: “We were in a piano bar in Marrakech. We thought something like this in Ringwood would be wonderful.

“We have wonderful lighting and the space is candlelit with large, squashy sofas. There is a metropolitan feel to the space, with New York style wallpaper and an architectural skyline.”

Inspector Simon Tribe of Hampshire Police said: “At this time the premises has been granted a temporary licence to cover the Christmas and New Year period with a number of conditions attached to this to try to ensure that the premises does not adversely affect the surrounding community.

“It should be stressed that the licensees are not the same as when the premises were previously open.

“The premises is in the process of applying for a permanent licence and again any application will be subject to scrutiny by licensing officers. Local police are aware of the issues which previously surrounded this premises and will be ensuring that this forms part of the discussions in relation to possible premises licences.

“Equally if local residents wish to air their concerns or reservations about the premises, they are able to do so via the New Forest District Council website.

“In the meantime local officers will be paying attention to the Metro Lounge for the duration of the temporary licence to ensure that conditions are adhered to.”