AN artisan market is being transformed into a wine bar with pop-up food stalls including pizza and tapas after being given the green-light to sell booze.

The Artisan Market, in Leigh Road, Leigh, opened last year selling everything from fruit and veg to niche homeware and craft beers.

However, with the economic downturn some of the traders moved on and the market was left largely empty earlier this year.

Now, owner Samuel Giles is offering the chance to sip fine wines and a restaurant area where diners can watch chefs creating tasty tapas.

He said: “As a retail market it didn’t work out for the traders so we looked at what did work so we are doing food pop-ups like wood-fired pizzas on a Saturday night and there is a new restaurant and wine bar.

“Being an Artisan Market it had premium produce and luxury goods which were the first to feel the effects of the economic problems. We have now got a licence until 11pm for our Spanish and Mediterranean tapas restaurant. We’ve been operating on a temporary licence for a month and the feedback has been really good.”

Mr Giles added: “We’ve got an outside coffee area and at the back of the market we have an open kitchen where you can see the tapas being made. On the other side there is a sit down wine bar which isn’t aimed at young clientele. It is for the forty-plus age group to enjoy a nice bottle of wine.”

Mr Giles revealed there had been four objections to the licence application which was heard by Southend Council’s licensing committee on Thursday.

Leigh Lib Dem councillor Carole Mulroney said: “I did object to this application.

“I haven’t seen the result but I did suggest a few alterations and if they have been implemented I would have withdrawn my objection. I do have concerns about the proliferation of licences in Leigh Road. We had problems with Mojos when it was open with noise and antisocial behaviour.

“I’m not saying this venue will be the same for one minute but we have to keep on top of any problems with this.”

The restaurant and wine bar will be open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday.

The venue is also available for events.