DEMOLITION work on the old Astoria cinema has started in earnest.

The Grade-II listed 80-year-old Art Deco building in Gloucester Place, Brighton, is being torn down to make way for a block of luxury flats.

After months of false starts and hoarding, scaffolding now covers the building and walls have been ripped away by JCBs.

A spokesman for developers Ktesius Projects said: “The demolition is taking place now and we’re hoping to be done by June, and that’s when the construction will start.

“We’re slated for end 2019 for build completion.

“We continue to work in close collaboration with neighbours and community groups to ensure the project is undertaken with the least disruption possible.”

The scheme to turn the building into the “Brighton Rox” apartment complex was approved earlier this year after several delays and rejected planning applications.

The Ktesius scheme includes the demolition of the existing Grade II listed building and the construction a new building, seven storeys tall at its highest point.

It will comprise 70 one, two, three and four bedroom flats and commercial units in the basement and on the ground floor looking out on Gloucester Place.

The developers will pay the city £1.6 million in lieu of including any affordable homes.

The former theatre, cinema and bingo hall has lain empty since 1997.

In 2015 property developer Mike Holland, who was jailed for manslaughter last year in connection to the death of a workman on one of his sites, received permission to knock it down. He bought the cinema for £2.2 million from Brighton dance company Stomp in 2001.

He was given planning permission to knock it down and replace it with offices, shops, cafes and flats but the work never began.

He sold it on to a student housing firm, who then sold it to Ktesius Projects, whose plans for the scheme were approved after appeal.