AN ICONIC Leigh building and former cinema will be transformed into more than 20 flats.

Rileys Snooker Hall, formerly the old Corona cinema, in Leigh Road, Leigh, has already been demolished, but developers have now been granted permission to build a five storey block of flats in its place.

The site has been subject to four planning applications in the last 10 years to build homes, of which one was approved in 2011 but the plans were never realised.

The former venue will now have a block of 21 flats built in its place.

Sue Lodge, 59, of London Road, Leigh, said: “I always think it would have been good to see these buildings restored and brought back to their former uses.

“It would have been amazing to see it as a cinema again, but alas I don’t think that was ever an option.

“The building has already been demolished, so I suppose the council didn’t really have much choice.”

The building initially opened as the Corona cinema in October 1929.

It was a single-storey auditorium with its own orchestra as variety shows accompanied the films - and also a Christie organ.

After changing hands numerous times, it was closed as a cinema on April 4, 1959.

After standing empty for several years, it was used for industrial purposes, before being converted into a snooker centre in 1982.

The design and access statement from applicants Property Generation Services reads: “This site has had a chequered history in recent years and has been the subject of a number of redevelopment applications since 2008.

“Approval has been granted to demolish the existing building and replace it with a flatted scheme with a much reduced area of leisure floorspace.

“This approval has existed since 2011 and has not come forward.

“The sports bar use has failed on two occasions and receivers and local marketing agents have been unable to find a leisure user.”

A Section 106 agreement has been completed which will see the developer contribute £192,760.61 to affordable housing.

They will also contribute £35,039.39 to be used towards the expansion of St Bernard’s High School.

The plans were approved by Southend Council last week, and work must start within three years.