THE State Cinema in Grays is to become a pub after JD Wetherspoon finally purchased the building following intense negotiations.

As exclusively revealed by the Gazette earlier this year, the pub chain say they will invest £3million in to the building in George Street and create up to 100 new jobs.

Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson added: “We are delighted to have acquired the former cinema in Grays.

“We have been keen to open a pub in the town for a number of years and are pleased that this is now moving in the right direction.

“Our aim is to invest £3 million in developing the former cinema into a pub, creating up to 100 new jobs.

“We believe that a Wetherspoon pub would be a great asset to the town and also result in further investment from other businesses.”

Thurrock Council leader John Kent said: “This is fantastic news. It’s great this deal has now been signed.

“Over the past year to 18 months we have been working closely with Wetherspoon and the State’s owners to get this agreement – and before that with the owners and other interested parties.

“This announcement clearly shows there is a great deal of interest in Grays and the town centre; it proves we should all have confidence that Grays will soon be back to the bustling centre many of us remember.”

Conservative leader Rob Gledhill added: "This is a long overdue result for Grays and Thurrock as a whole. The State has been in decline for years being not much more that a decaying pigeon loft and a bit of an eyesore.

"Having a large well known chain like Wetherspoons take it over could help attract other big High Street names and help regenerate Grays Town Centre.

"It may now also be time for the Council to be discussing a sustainable and safe night time economy, across Thurrock's town centres, to ensure that residents have more entertainment opportunities to enjoy their free time."