AN EMPTY restaurant in Basingstoke town centre is set to become a “pop up” shop to help local start-up businesses and enterprising students.

The new “Shopstart” project is set to start this summer at the site of former restaurant Real Brazil, in Church Street, after a joint lease was signed by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Basingstoke Coll-ege of Technology (BCoT).

Renovation work is now set to begin on the site, which has been empty since 2012, to bring it back to life for an initial two-year period, and the business rates will be fully subsidised.

When completed, the site will be used for a number of activities including entrepreneurial and retail training for BCoT students, and it is seen as an opportunity to showcase retail products.

Councillor Ranil Jayawardena, deputy leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said: “This is just one of the ways that our Town Centre Programme is encouraging new businesses and activities to set up in the Top of The Town.

“Our support aims to help attract new customers to the area, making it easier to set up new businesses here.”

He added: “This project will really benefit local students and local business start-ups who can use space in the shop for as little as a week or a few months. We’ve had lots of interest already so we’re very positive about the future.”

David Moir, deputy principal of BCoT, added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the borough council to provide this fantastic opportunity for our students to operate real commercial projects and develop their enterprise and employability skills.

“Developing these skills is another way in which we can help our students to go on and be successful in their future careers. Customers will know they are making a real difference when they shop there as they will be supporting local students and local businesses.”

Anyone interested in taking space at the new “pop up” shop should contact David Moir on 01256 306415 or email him at