Setting of Byker Grove youth club to become an Islamic school after council approved plans
Grade II-Listed Benwell Towers was bought by BAHR Academy for 400,000Was the setting of BBC series for 17 years but has been empty since 2006The building in Benwell, Newcastle, will cater for 340 boys and girlsAcademy principal welcomed decision by Newcastle City Council to bring derelict building back to life
16:39 GMT, 15 December 2012
16:42 GMT, 15 December 2012
A building made famous as the setting for children's series Byker Grove will be transformed into an Islamic school.
Plans to convert the former Bishop's Palace into a fee-paying faith school have been given the go-ahead.
The BAHR Academy will cater for up to 340 boys and girls between 11 and 16 in Benwell, Newcastle.
The site has been on the market since 2007, a year after the BBC stopped filming the series.
Transformation: The building, pictured behind members of the Byker Grove cast, including Ant and Dec, will become an Islamic Academy
Plans include the development of the run-down site and will include a community building, coffee shop and events space that will be open at weekends.
BAHR Academy principal Mufti Muhammad Abdulmuheet welcomed the decision by Newcastle City Council, which he said will see a derelict building put back into the community.
He said: 'When it was run by the BBC, the site was not open to everyone but we want the public to come along, the community facilities are for everyone to use.
'We want to show that Islam is inclusive and we want to be a part of Benwell and Scotswood.
'At the moment the building is in a dire state but the community has raised funds to bring it back into use.'
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Benwell Towers, pictured behind the cast, pictured in 1990, lay empty since 2006 when the BBC pulled the plug on Byker Grove after 17 years. Jill Halfpenny can be seen on the far left
The building was the setting of the popular series that ran from 1989 to 2006.
It launched the careers of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who played PJ and Duncan on the programme, and over the years also featured Donna Air and Jill Halfpenny.
The Newcastle-based Academy bought the site, which includes the Grade II-Listed Benwell Towers and Welburn House, bought for 400,000,
Also known as the Mitre Building, the property was home to the bishops of Newcastle in the late 1800s, before being used as a fire station during the Second World War.
It has also been used as a pub and restaurant but has mainly been empty over the past five years.
Some objections about traffic congestion were raised by residents at the planning meeting but the plans have been recommended for approval.
The report read: 'The proposed school would impact upon some neighbouring residents.
'Increased coming and goings would generate activtity above ity last use as a reocording studio.
'However, any disruption would be for only certain periods of the day and with less activity at weekends. Given the benefits of finding a future use of the property, then these impacts are considered acceptable.'