THE State Cinema is set to become a Wetherspoons pub, the Gazette can reveal.

The Grade II-listed building, in George Street, Grays, has stood empty for a number of years, and despite numerous plans being put forward to return it to its former glory, nothing has happened until now.

A spokesman for the pub chain, which has hundreds of premises all over the country, confirmed it is keen to open a pub in the town, but would not be drawn on any individual site.

A previous proposal for the 2,200-seat cinema included combining a three-screen cinema with a live entertainment venue, restaurant, coffee shop, bar and banqueting facilities.

The Gazette understands there will also be a space for exhibitions, and even live performances.

Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle- Price said she was looking forward to seeing Wetherspoons plans, but thinks Thurrock Council could have done more to turn the building into a multi-purpose venue.

She said: “I’m always keen to welcome new investment in the borough and the arrival of Wetherspoons will help catalyse the night-time economy that Grays needs.”

Polly Billington, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Thurrock, is also pleased about the building being put to good use, and will be asking the chain if there are plans for events such as live music and comedy.

She said: “It’s good to see something happening to the State after years of neglect.

However, the building should be more than just a pub and should benefit the whole community, if possible.”

Albert Gosnall, who runs the Save the State Cinema group on Facebook, isn’t sure a pub is what the building needs.

He said: “It would be very sad, and somehow I do not think it could ever be a success as the town as a place to be sociable was killed when they built Lakeside.”

What do you think of that plans? Let us know.