PLANS to reopen a former Hampshire cinema that closed more than 50 years ago are set to receive the go-ahead next week.

Civic chiefs are being urged to approve an application to breathe new life into the old Regal cinema in Shaftesbury Street, Fordingbridge, which stopped showing films in the 1960s.

The Art Deco-style building has stood empty since a pottery business based in the complex closed several years ago.

If the proposed development is given the nod, part of the building will be turned back into a cinema and the rest of the structure will be converted into flats.

Supporters of the scheme include Fordingbridge Town Council and Sir Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West.

In a letter to New Forest District Council Sir Desmond says: “A cinema will return to the town, an Art Deco building will be restored and much-needed accommodation for key workers will be restored.”

The proposals have been submitted by Fordingbridge-based Corintech, which hopes the flats will help the company recruit young engineers.

A previous plan to bulldoze the old cinema and replace it with four terraced homes was withdrawn shortly after it was submitted in 2014.

Opened in 1933 the Regal operated for many years and saw several changes of ownership before finally closing in 1965.

The following year the building was bought by Branksome China, which used it as a pottery manufacturing business selling porcelain tableware until 2013.

Planning documents submitted by Corintech say: “The applicant is seeking to undertake major refurbishment and improvement, converting part of the building back into a cinema.

“The remainder will be divided into eight studio apartments. A new, attractive outdoor space will be created for both the cinema and the apartments.

“The proposal also includes the removal of outbuildings. These buildings have no architectural merit, and their removal will let light into the site and neighbouring properties.”

A report to councillors adds: “The premises has a long history of employment use.

“However, it has been vacant for some time and its condition has deteriorated, making its re-use for employment purposes less attractive to prospective occupiers.

“The proposal would result in the re-introduction of a use which is very well supported by the local community and would also provide residential accommodation.

“Consequently, in this instance, the loss of an employment site is considered acceptable.”

Members of the council’s planning and development control committee will debate the application when its meets on Wednesday.