FRESH multi-million plans for an historic cinema to be turned into apartments and shops will see the old auditorium demolished but the iconic Art Deco facade maintained.

New blueprints submitted for the former Odeon in Crouch Street, Colchester, would replace the old screening area to house 35 apartments, while a further 11 flats would be built into the converted front of the cinema.

There would then be space for two shops on the ground floor.

The plans have been submitted by BluMarble Property, the company which owns the building, and a decision on the plans could be taken by Colchester Council as soon as February 28.

Director of the company Matt Ellis, said the rear part of the cinema was simply in too poor a state to be saved.

He said: "The auditorium is in a derelict state and we simply cannot keep the existing building.

"The front part which faces onto Crouch Street is locally listed and we plan on keeping that.

"Rebuilding the rear of the building will be much easier.

"There is still a lot of work to do, but the plan is to restore the building to its former glory.

"At the moment the building is a bit of an eyesore, the rear is just a brick block and the work we plan to do will make it better.

"Off the top of my head the cost is likely to be about £6million, but having experienced these types of project nothing ever runs quite to plan."

Mr Ellis said the former cinema, which has been empty since Odeon moved to their multiplex Head Street premises in 2002, was broken into regularly and hoped plans could move forward soon.

He said: "The biggest worry we have is the constant break-ins.

"It doesn't matter how we secure it, break-ins happen on a weekly basis.

"The real worry is something might happen to someone if they are in there when they shouldn't be."

BluMarble began working on plans for the property with former owner Ross Carroll, before buying it in 2015.

Mr Carroll owned the building since 2012 and, at first, planned to transform it into a 96-bed hotel and 40 homes.

In 2014, he submitted plans for three shops and seven apartments, along with a four-storey block of 36 apartments on land behind the cinema.

Steve Peri, who owned the building for eight years previous to Mr Carroll, intended to turn it into a super-club, but all plans to develop the site have so far fallen flat.