A "private benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous" has pledged backing for the purchase of an iconic art deco former cinema.

A group seeking to acquire, restore and operate the 1939 picture house has boosted its number and set up a company to handle the community-centred facility’s affairs as a charity.

It comes as the campaign to refurbish the empty former Royal George Cinema in Bath Street, Portobello, Edinburgh, gathers momentum.

The Friends of The George Steering Group said: "The 12-strong group now comprises arts management professionals, accountants, architects, communications and design specialists, community cinema consultants, actors, screenwriters and other allied professionals and set up a limited company to receive funds and to pay for services including legal advice.

"We will apply for charitable status over the next few months, with help from our legal advisors."

READ MORE: Cinema revival plan for landmark Scottish art deco icon

The group said it has had the building formally valued by a firm of professional surveyors and "made an offer to purchase it based on that valuation, as a restoring purchaser".

It added: "Funds for purchase were very generously offered by a private benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous for now."

READ MORE: Edinburgh art deco cinema demolition rejected

The group continued: "Our offer was turned down but our aim remains to try and purchase the building and to restore it as a community asset in line with the vision we’ve outlined and so we will continue to look at how this may be achieved.

"In October we successfully applied for some for funding from the Scottish Land Fund to cover consultancy costs including a feasibility report from a specialist, community cinema consultancy that will inform next steps."

READ MORE: Arts trust plan to restore art deco cinema 

Scottish ministers last year rejected an appeal to partly demolish the building to create homes.

The works proposed included the demolition of the auditorium and retention and partial restoration of principal exterior of elements of the art deco façade, and creating 20 flats with associated car parking and landscaping.

Edinburgh City Council’s development management sub-committee refused the application for the substantial demolition of the C-listed building and redevelopment.