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Source : 01/11/2002 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

The derelict Cannon Cinema in Northampton will not be transformed into the long-awaited Jesus Centre until at least the end of next year.

It has emerged that the Jesus Army's multi-million-pound transformation of the art deco venue will now not become a reality for another 14 months after delays have once again blighted the ambitious project.

Elders from the controversial Northamptonshire-based religious group have told the Chronicle and Echo that blueprints for the conversion are still being drawn up - more than two-and-a-half years after the Jesus Army bought the historic building.

John Campbell, the Jesus Army's spokesman, said: 'It is extremely frustrating that we have not been able to move in quicker.'

'But we are very happy with the designs which will fit in with the building. I think the end of 2003 is a realistic target for the work to be finished.'

'Of course, we would much rather have been in there a year ago. But these things do take a long time, and we need to make sure it is done properly.'

It emerged a year ago that the Jesus Army had to revise plans to convert the Cannon Cinema into the worship centre after cracks were discovered in the building's foundations.

Underpinning work to stabilise the 1930's venue has already begun, as have improvements to the drainage system.

But detailed plans to transform the centre are having to be resubmitted to architects after the initial blueprints far exceeded the Jesus Army's budget.

However, despite the delays which have plagued the redevelopment, Mr Campbell insisted the conversion would be completed within the 3 million which has been allocated to the project.

Very little work has been done to the actual interior of the derelict cinema, although repairs to the building's roof are under way.

Once it is finished, the worship centre will act as a national headquarters for the Jesus Army and will include counselling services and a training base.