AN investment of £2 million is to transform Chippenham's cinema and make it accessible to all.

KC Suri, who owns the Astoria Reel as well as 14 other Reel cinemas across the country, says he is going to pump £2m into the Marshfield Road building to upgrade it from two upstairs screens to five screens across two floors.

This will allow wheelchair users to go to the cinema in Chippenham for the first time since the 1960s, with wheelchair access on the Dallas Road side.

The development would take the 370 seater up to 655 seats, and add another 20 jobs to the seven currently employed.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid, visited today to hear about the Astoria plans, which involve turning the ramshackle old bingo hall downstairs into three brand new screens and adding a cafe bar, plus refurbishing the front of the building and the two upstairs screens.

Duty manager Leanne Bishop said: "We get people coming from Ferfoot [care home] and they're only able to bring a few because the rest need disabled access. Every week we get people ringing up asking if we have it. A lot of people at Greathouse in Kington Langley want to come but at the moment they travel to Swindon."

Mr Suri, who is based in Loughborough, said: "This project will provide the local community with a modern leisure facility. We will be able to show all the latest films on the release date.

"We are adding a senior citizen club and also a children club on Saturday, Sunday and in school holidays."

Investment started last year, when the Astoria celebrated its 75th birthday, with a new roof, boiler and revamped frontage.

Michelle Donelan, Chippenham's prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives, said: "This is a much grander project than originally. I persuaded Mr Suri to invest more; with all the houses being built it's easy to provide a business case that it will be viable.

"Younger people keep leaving the area because there's not a lot of stuff to do and there's not enough jobs. There's no need when we have facilities like this that just need an injection of cash. We need to provide the whole package to keep them here and to attract them to spend in the local economy."

Manager Jeremy Hancock, who has worked at the Chippenham cinema for 34 years, said: "I've been hoping for this for years.

"Having five screens is going to give us more chance of variation in what films we show. We are tied down because of a commitment [to studios] to showing some films we don't want to; with five we can show others as well."

After being given a tour of the cinema, culture minister Mr Javid, who used to live in Bristol and has been tipped to succeed Cameron as party leader, said: "It is a very significant investment and will offer more to everyone, young and old, including people with disabilities.

"I'm very impressed by the variety of films here - opera, ballet, National Theatre and children's - and the digital equipment is not something every cinema has."