THE owner of Chippenham’s only cinema is investing tens of thousands of pounds into making it a five-screen multiplex to fend off competition in neighbouring towns.

The Astoria, in Bath Road, is owned by family-run Reel Cinema, which wants to expand and improve the business, adding three screens and almost doubling the number of seats.

Managing director Naveen Suri, said: “Our ethos is being part of the community and the heart of it.

“We feel Chippenham deserves a bigger cinema with more than two screens. We actually looked at the changes in 2011 but at the time it got put off the jobs list but now we feel is the time to invest in the site.

“We do all the usual hard of hearing and autistic screenings and by expanding from two to five screens we will be able to offer more product.”

Manager Luke Findley said: “The planning application is a massive step for us, it’s a step forward that the cinema and Chippenham needs.

“We’re giving back to the community.

“It’s quite a massive investment and they believe that they have the correct management and that it’s worth the investment.”

Converting the disused section of the ground floor, once a bingo hall but now a derelict shop, would create a new frontage for the new 700-seat complex, and provide the three new screens, a concession stand and toilets.

The existing screens would also be modernised, with premium seats and more leg room and it is expected between 15 and 25 new jobs would be created.

The cinema has no parking, although it plans to provide some disabled spaces at the front of the building, with the nearest public car park round the corner in Dallas Road.

Reel’s plans say there is parking available on nearby streets, and at Sadlers Mead, the Hathaway Retail Park and Chippenham railway station.

Simon Philpott, the manager of the Chippenham BID, said: “This will have a wide-reaching benefit for the town.

“We will be making use of an existing asset in the town, maintaining our history and exposing a beautiful façade and once again the profile of Chippenham as a great place to live will be raised.

“In addition to the positive impact this investment will bring to our economy the public will be provided with a varied and quality entertainment experience.”

Reel Cinema formed in 2001 and took over the running of the Astoria – which was built in 1939 as a theatre – in the mid-2000s.

Reel currently owns 15 cinemas across the UK and has plans to build six new cinemas.

If the plans are approved by Wiltshire Council work is expected to be completed by October but the cinema will be open during the summer.