ENTREPRENEUR and real ale lover Malcolm Shipp is hoping to buck the decline in the pub industry by opening a micro pub in Devizes.

Mr Shipp, of Sells Green, and his business partner Chaz Hobden, brewer at Wessex Brewery at Longbridge Deverell, have applied for planning permission and a premises licence to turn the Lignum antiques shop in St John’s Street, Devizes, into a pub.

Lignum is closing at the end of the month, and before it opened the premises used to be Town Hall Wine Vaults, an off-licence run by Jasper Holmes.

Micro pubs are small pubs selling real ale and Mr Shipp, a sales manager, believes Devizes is an ideal place for one.

Mr Shipp, 46, said: “Micro pubs are quite a new thing that are sweeping the country but have not made it into Wiltshire yet. They are a one-room bar, like an Irish-style pub, and are being opened in former shops.

“The overheads are low because you are free of ties from pub companies. People are loving them, there’s not one micro pub that’s failed.

“The Lignum premises is perfect. It has a huge cellar downstairs where we plan to have a bottled beer shop. The ambient temperature down there is perfect to store the barrels.”

Mr Shipp founded the Kennet and Avon Brewery earlier this year and his ales are being sold at outlets including The Peppermill wine bar in Devizes and the George and Dragon pub in Rowde. A brewery building will be built at Sells Green and should open next year.

His proposed micro pub would be called The Vaults and be open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 9pm, selling real ales, wines, coffee and soft drinks. He and Mr Hobden have agreed a five-year lease subject to obtaining a licence and planning permission.

Asked if Devizes needed another pub, Mr Shipp said: “I think it needs something different to what it has got. It’s a one brewery town, pretty much. Our pub will be more of a connoisseur’s paradise.”

Graham Brown, of Devizes CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), welcomed the proposal.

He said: “I think it’s a wonderful idea. Anything that brings good quality cask-conditioned beer to the forefront so people can try it is good.”

Pubs that have closed in Devizes in the past few years include The Artichoke in Bath Road, the Royal Oak in New Park Street, the Elm Tree in High Street and Rising Sun in Southbroom Road.