Image caption The former Odeon cinema was built in Ipswich in 1991

A cinema that has stood empty for nearly 15 years is set to begin a transformation into a church.

The art-deco style former Odeon building in Ipswich was constructed in 1991 but closed its doors in 2005.

In May, Ipswich Borough Council approved plans for Hope Church, based in Fore Hamlet in the town, to move in.

Much of the cinema had been left untouched, with original fittings and decor remaining, ahead of work beginning to convert it.

Image caption Many of the interior fittings and decor remain from the when the building was used as a cinema Image caption Church pastor Tom Scrivens, stood where one of the cinema screens once was, said the building comes with "enormous potential"

Church pastor Tom Scrivens said services could be held there by Christmas.

"We're excited about what it will be in the months to come. It's got enormous potential," he said.

Image caption The former cinema is on the edge of Ipswich town centre, next to the Regent theatre

Mr Scrivens said all the seating had been removed but there was still popcorn in an old dispenser when they first got on site.

He said the 200-seat auditorium downstairs was going to be a children's work space for Sundays and the 700-seat auditorium upstairs would become the main room for worship.

The old Screen 4 will be used for church services for up to 200 people, while the old Screen 5 will become two rooms.

Image caption The cinema lost business when a rival business opened on Cardinal Park, while another cinema has since opened in the Buttermarket shopping centre

Mr Scrivens said: "We're really excited about the developments that are planned for this area.

"We're looking forward to this part of town growing and developing and we'll be part of that, which is exciting."

Image caption Mr Scrivens said the church had outgrown its former home

A cafe open to the public, two auditoriums for congregations and separate rooms for children's workshops and activities, office space, events and conferences are included in the plans.

The building, which once had five cinema screens, was sold in 2014 for £530,000.

You may also be interested in:
  • What happened to Claudia?
  • Leicester star in goal tribute to girl
  • 'You don't have to be a guy or a girl'
Image caption Old cinema screens had already been stripped out of the building

An application was lodged in 2006 for multi-leisure use to create a nightclub, bowling alley and restaurants, but this never came to fruition.

The 2017 local plan had designated it for leisure use, but it was considered by planning officers that a place of worship was acceptable.

Image caption Daddy Day Care, Piglet's Big Movie and The Hulk are 2003 movies that can be seen listed under blue paint on the outside of the building

.