PUB chain bosses insist plans to open a JD Wetherspoon on the site of the former State Cinema in Grays are still on track - and say a planning application should be submitted soon.

Two years after buying the disused cinema building, the pub chain confirmed to the Gazette it is still committed to opening on the site.

JD Wetherspoon bought the Grade II* listed building in September 2015 and promised to invest £3 million in its restoration. But since then very little building work has been noticeable at the site.

Gazette readers feared that Historic England were holding up the conversion but a spokesman for the body has now confirmed they are as keen to see the building restored as anyone.

A Historic England spokesperson said: “We have been involved in detailed, constructive pre-application discussions with the current owner of the Grade II* listed old State Cinema in Grays.

“We expect a planning application for the building’s conversion to be submitted in the near future.

“Our role is to advise Thurrock Council on how the development proposals will affect the historic significance of the building but the council, as decision maker in the planning process, will make the final decision on the application.

“We are keen to see the building brought back into use and will continue to work closely with all parties involved to secure its future.”

A spokesperson for JD Wetherspoon confirmed it was working with Historic England and planning officers and hoped to submit the application shortly.

Thurrock Council have also confirmed that they are at an advanced stage of the pre-planning application process and that progress is being made.

Councillor for Regeneration, Mark Coxshall said: “We are excited about all the ongoing regeneration work across Grays town centre and look forward to welcoming the JD Wetherspoon’s to the town.

“Thurrock Council, Historic England and other related specialists have been working with JD Wetherspoon and their architects on proposals for the reuse of the building.

"Discussions are at an advanced stage and the Council expects a formal planning application to be submitted in the near future.”

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