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Source : 18/08/2000 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Elders from the Jesus Army were today embroiled in talks about plans to convert Northampton's historic Cannon Cinema into a worship centre.

Members of the controversial Christian sect have been attempting to smooth out the plans to transform the art deco venue after they bought the grade two listed building in March.

Planning officers from Northampton Borough Council have been mediating between the Jesus Army and both the cinema Theatre Association and English Heritage before blueprints for conversion are submitted.

Jesus Army spokesman, John Campbell, said: 'Whatever we do will preserve the vast majority of the cinema, and any alterations will be sympathetic to the whole building.'

'A lot of the cinema needs renovating. There have been additions and alterations over the years, which have not been helpful to the cinema's historic feel.'

'We would hope to be able to improve on that.'

'There will be a lot of work needed to repair damage and decay, and the damage from pigeons which have nested in the building. The seats, for example, are in a very bad condition.'

The discussions have taken longer than expected, setting back original plans to open the Jesus Centre by several months.

According to Mr Campbell, the Jesus Army now hopes to be operating from the cinema early next year.

A borough council spokeswoman confirmed officers had been involved in 'informal discussions' with members of the Jesus Army.

She said: 'Northampton Borough council has a responsibility to protect the character and appearance of all listed buildings in the borough.'

The Cannon venue is one of the few remaining examples of the work of William R Glen, Britain's most prolific cinema architect.

It was built in 1936, and was given listed building status in 1994.