REAL ale lovers are a step closer to having their own watering hole after plans to expand a microbrewery were put forward.

Owner Trevor Jeffery is hoping to double the size of the Essex Beer Shop and Microbrewery, in Chapel Street, Billericay, to include a bar.

He has submitted plans to Basildon Council for the changes needed to branch out into the empty former accountants shop next door.

He hopes it will offer an alternative to the other bars and pubs in the High Street.

The new venue has already been granted a premises licence and will be allowed to play music.

The design and access statement states: “The scale of the proposed development is limited and as such its impact on local residents and the environment in general will be limited.

“The existing building is vacant and allows expansion of the brewery which is a very successful addition to the local community and area.

“Allowing this change of use would ensure the future success of the brewery.”

Basildon Council is set to rule on the application by October 17.