THE opening of a 'Pot Shop' in Bournemouth has caused quite a stir – with some locals fearing the premises encourages cannabis use.

However, the man behind the venture, artist Stuart Semple, says residents are mistaken, and that his 'art installation' is in fact a homage to pop artist Keith Haring – and the humble noodle pot.

Stuart said: "I am so sorry that people misunderstood the situation.

"The art installation I made sells rare imported pot noodles from around the globe and is in no way related to the use of illegal substances.

"It pays homage to one of my art heroes Keith Haring, and I’ve hand-painted the inside to salute his 1980s Pop Shop store that he made in New York City."

Haring's graffiti-like work grew out of the New York Street culture of the 1980s, and his shop in the city was popular with Madonna.

Stuart said: "I really thought the people of Bournemouth would enjoy the noodles, super cool magazines and vegan sugar free cakes for the kids.

"Sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings. I meant pot as in pot noodles – not pot as in drugs."

Some residents believed the shop, which is situated at Commercial Road, The Triangle, Bournemouth, could promote the use of marijuana and even called for BCP Council to shut it down.

An online petition states: 'The area already struggles massively with antisocial behaviour and the last thing the community needs is an establishment promoting the use of narcotics.'

According to Stuart the store boasts more than 30 kinds of instant noodles, including rare imported Pokemon noodles from Japan and Korean noodles purportedly the hottest in the world.

The interior includes work from Stuart including painting, neon works and sculptures.

It is situated at the former post office site, opposite a primary school.

He said: "I did make a sign that says ‘Shit Hot Coffee’ and loads of people have come in and had a word, including Vera the lolly pop lady.

"Apparently, the headmaster from the school is writing a letter, so I admit I misjudged that, and I’ll make sure the s-word isn’t visible during school times for the kids.

"I’m really sorry. I want pot shop to be welcoming for everyone.”