One of Birmingham’s best known former cinemas is to be given a new lease of life as a Chinese restaurant.

The Clifton in Walsall Road, Great Barr, will be able to cater for 500 diners when it reopens.

The circle, which boasted the best seats, is to be turned into private dining booths by Nechells-based Nao Wah, the company behind the scheme.

The rest of the building will be converted into a bar and dining areas.

Built in 1938, the Clifton was one of the largest cinemas in Birmingham for 40 years.

From 1980 until earlier this year the building was used as a Gala bingo hall, but it closed its doors in August.

Described by the city council as being of significant architectural merit, the building was given special protection when it was listed in 2000.

The change of use has been approved by Birmingham planning committee, despite concerns from some residents about parking problems.

Objectors complained that a 61-space car park would not be large enough to accommodate the number of people expected to use the restaurant.

Diners would leave their cars in nearby streets, it was feared.

But Paula Smith, chairman of the city’s conservation and heritage panel welcomed the scheme.

Coun Smith (Lib Dem Hall Green) said: “It will be good to see this important building brought back into public use.”