PLANS to transform a historic art-deco cinema into a bar may not happen until sometime next year.
An ambitious plan to refurbish and redevelop the State Cinema, on George Street in Grays into a Wetherspoons bar was approved by Thurrock Council almost six months ago but work may not begin for another year.
When the £30million scheme was unanimously approved by councillors in August, it was praised for restoring an iconic building and creating an estimated 60 new jobs to the borough.
It had taken JD Wetherspoon more than three years to put the plans together.
A spokesman for the company said: “The project is out to tender and the aim is to start development work this year, though that is not guaranteed.
“Wetherspoon didn’t get planning permission until a couple of months ago due to working with Heritage England and others as it is a Grade 2 listed building.
“The three years prior was how long it took to get the permission working in partnership with the authorities to get a scheme that works for us whilst maintaining the historically important features of one of the few remaining ‘super cinemas’ from the 1930s.”
He added that the reason the project may not get off the ground this year is because the company has “a lot of projects and they have to work out a schedule and some sites start later than expected”.
Earlier this month, Wetherspoons applied to Thurrock Council for a licence to supply alcohol on and off the premises from 8am to midnight, Sunday to Wednesday, and 8am to 1am Thursday to Saturday.
The State Cinema originally opened in 1938 and was one of the largest and most modern cinemas of its kind at the time.
It closed in 1988 but later made an appearance in the box office hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Ten years later, one of cinema’s most iconic monsters crashed into the building in a promotional video made for the 1998 movie Godzilla. The British band Jamiroquai used the cinema to film a music video for the song Deeper Underground, which was part of the Godzilla soundtrack.
As a Grade 2 listed building, Wetherspoons is required to preserve the iconic art deco appearance but they have permission to make some modifications to get the building back into active use.
One of the largest of these changes will be making large holes in the external walls to install three large windows.