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A FORMER comedy club in the heart of Stokes Croft looks set to be converted into a mosque and community centre.

A planning application has been lodged with the city council to convert the boarded-up building on Cheltenham Road into an Islamic Centre.

The application to convert the former Jesters Comedy Club is due to be heard within the next two months and work could begin by the end of the year if the application is approved by city councillors.

Alterations and extensions to the building will be carried out if the conversion is given the go-ahead.

The Grade II listed building has been standing empty for just over 18 months after Jesters owner David Trew said the business had become too expensive to operate.

The application has been lodged on behalf of the Assahaba Centre and is for change of use to a place of worship and community centre.

The new mosque is just a stone’s throw from Telepathic Heights, which was at the centre of the riots which erupted in the area just over two years ago.

Jesters closed its doors in January 2012 but over the last 12 months a number of new bars, restaurants and cafés have sprung up in the Stokes Croft area. Cheltenham Road is fast becoming one of the most popular late-night venues in the city.

No objections or comments have been received in relation to the application.

The building was originally a cinema and many of the original features still exist including the balcony, columns, light fittings and decorations. In the years before the Second World War, which was considered the golden age of the movies, Bristol had 40 cinemas. The Cheltenham Road cinema was considered one of the grandest in the city.

It was built in 1914 and was designed by local architect William Henry Watkins and was originally called the Cheltenham Cinema.

Although it changed its name several times, the building was used as a cinema until 1955 when it was converted into a church by the Christadelphian organisation.

It was owned by the church for 44 years and the sold to the JD Wetherspoon pub chain in 1994. At the time of the sale the former cinema was given listed building status.

The building was converted and an extension added and was renamed The Magic Box. The pub closed in 2006 and in 2007 planning permission was granted to turn the pub into a comedy club.

A spokesperson for the Assahaba group said: “This proposal will enhance the listed building and the setting. It will enable the listed building to be brought back into use with the significant features of listed building retained.

“The building can accommodate the proposed new use and the building has formerly successfully been used as a place of worship.”

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