The former Palace Cinema in Alton is set for a much-needed facelift after owner Raj Jeyasingam received planning permission to convert and extend it into six flats for rent.

The cinema closed in November 2022 after 110 years of movies at the Normandy Street site, the last 85 of them in the current Art Deco building.

In July 2021 Mr Jeyasingam announced he no longer wished to run the independent cinema he took on in 1995 and gave potential buyers until September 2022 to meet his £850,000 asking price, while warning that his ageing projection equipment might not last that long.

The Save Alton Cinema campaign failed to find the money to keep it open but did help provide momentum to inspire other venues in the town to screen films. The Alton Assembly Rooms will be showing the best original screenplay Oscar winner Anatomy of a Fall (15) at 7pm on May 5.

Mr Jeyasingam’s initial planning application for four one-bedroom flats and two two-bedroom flats was refused.

But after appearing at an Alton Town Council meeting to ask for help in revising his plans, and dealing with issues relating to overlooking, natural light, sound and parking, East Hampshire gave him permission on April 22.

Mr Jeyasingam said: “I will be able to help some people struggling to rent.

“Many landlords with one or two properties tend to maximise their income, which is understandable, but I’m not like that.”

A comment on the planning application on the East Hampshire District Council website said of the proposed façade: “Design in something more in-keeping with the surrounding context and conservation area that will visually stand the test of time. A façade with some relief would be much preferred.”

It is planned only to re-render and redecorate the building’s blank concrete façade. According to a heritage statement, this in “in order to revitalise the weathered finish, while retaining its Art Deco characteristics”.

Hopes of restoring the current cinema to its 1937 splendour, when it opened with Poor Little Rich Girl starring Shirley Temple, currently rely on an approximation based on similar cinemas or a previously undiscovered picture.

Abbe Fletcher, lead researcher for the Memories of the Palace Cinema oral history project, said: “Sadly, there are so few photos of the Palace before Len Gazzard’s 1983 photo.”