PLANS to open a micro-brewery at a popular New Forest pub have been given the go-ahead after sparking a wave of support.

Civic chiefs have approved proposals to build an extension to the Monkey House in Southampton Road, Lymington, which is thought to be at least 200 years old.

The applicant, Monkey Brewhouse Ltd, has also been given consent to carry out repairs to a former tollhouse next door.

One of the letters of support received by New Forest District Council was written by Helen Saunders, of Bramble Walk, Lymington, who used to work at the popular watering hole.

She said: "The proposed changes and additions to a pub I have known for over 30 years are an excellent and innovative way to move this much-loved pub and business forward.

"Everyone who owns their own business puts their heart and soul into it.

"I fully support all aspects of this excellent design that will improve and enhance the existing property and utilises a disused, almost derelict building within the grounds."

Gary Saunders, also of Bramble Walk, described the pub as being of "great importance" to the local community.

He added: "The plans are a creative addition which will enhance this much-loved business and attract more money to the local economy."

The Monkey House is run by Will Bradshaw, who comes from a brewing background.

James Dorey, of Cowley Road, Lymington, of also wrote to the council to support what he described a "fantastic and exciting" plan to build a micro-brewery behind the pub.

He added: "Talking with Will you get the feeling of his hunger and passion for making a fantastic local beer."

Council chiefs said the application to repair to the old tollhouse and build an extension to house the brewery had raised "no significant issues".

The tollhouse, a Grade II-listed building, will contain office and storage facilities. It will also be used in conjunction with guided tours of the brewery.

The pub, which is thought to be at least 200 years old, has had various titles over the years.

In 1978 it was named the Monkey House – a reference to a previous landlord who kept monkeys as pets.

It later became the Tollhouse Inn in a nod to the old turnpike next door but has since reverted to its previous name.