Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is poised to take over a former art deco-style cinema in a Tyneside town centre.
The company has submitted a planning bid for what was the Ritz Cinema on High Street West in Wallsend in North Tyneside.
The Ritz opened in 1939 with a seating capacity for 1,636 and was the work of North East cinema designers Percy L Browne, Son and Harding. It closed in 1962 and until 2011 was operated by Mecca as a bingo hall. It has since remained empty.
The former cinema is on North Tyneside Council’s Local List of buildings of interest.
Next Tuesday North Tyneside councillors will be advised by planners to agree to the conversion of the building by Wetherspoons into a pub.
The company plans to restore the original frontage of the building.
“The building was originally constructed as a cinema with an art deco jazz age design frontage that stands out from the surrounding buildings on High Street West,” say planners.
The front would be repainted and replacement art deco doors and glazing installed.
But the plans call for the demolition of the existing lobby and ticket foyer to create an outdoor terrace area with glazed canopy.
Planners say that an internal inspection has shown that the building is falling into disrepair and that the proposal would bring it back into use with an active frontage on to High Street West.
“The proposal would have a positive impact on the vitality and viability of Wallsend town centre,” they say.
There have been 11 letters of objection, with six from local pubs, and the council’s historic buildings officer has expressed disappointment at the planned demolition of the foyer.
The Ritz opened on May 15 1939 with the Jackie Cooper film Gangster’s Boy. The last film to be shown was A Kind of Loving.
Wallsend Boys’ club used the Ritz Cinema for Golden Gloves boxing contests to raise funds.
The event would be held over a period of six days, with one bout held each day immediately before the film show.
Wetherspoons had made an informal approach to North Tyneside Council over three listed buildings in Northumberland Square in North Shields.
The buildings had been vacated by the council’s legal department.
In January the council agreed a character appraisal for the Georgian Northumberland Square, which is a conservation area, setting out its special heritage qualities.
The council’s preferred option is to remarket the properties for residential use and they are currently for sale.
Planners are also recommending backing for plans to demolish the St Mark’s United Reformed Church on Tynemouth Road in Wallsend and the use of the site for 12 homes.