THE former Burnley College building has been targeted to get a 1,500-pupil Muslim boarding school for girls.

A leading charity has announced it wants to take over the vacated college in Ormerod Road and it hopes to attract girls from all over Europe.

If it goes ahead it will be one of the few Muslim girls’ boarding schools in the country.

General secretary Amjad Bashir of the Al-Ehya Trust said the facility would be a great asset for the town.

But Burnley Council leader Gordon Birtwistle said that while it was important that the Grade II listed building is occupied the proposal must meet strict planning criteria.

The £2million international school could be up and running by the start of the 2010 term, the charity said.

The Birmingham-based Al-Ehya Trust said it is in the final stages of purchasing the Ormerod Road landmark.

Trust leaders had conducted a Lancashire-wide search for a home for the project and had considered converting either Brierfield Mills or the former Egyptian Mill in Bolton for students.

But officials are now pressing ahead with ambitious proposals for the former Burnley College site, vacated when the establishment moved to their new campus in Princess Way following the summer 2009 term.

The trust was founded by Hazrat Pir Alauddin Siddiqui, a Pakistani-based sheikh. And an open day, which the spiritual leader attended, has already taken place this week for scholars and the scheme's supporters at the historic building near Burnley town centre.

Mr Bashir from the charity said that the college would offer a full range of science, arts and information technology subjects alongside a traditional Islamic education.

He said: "This will be an international community college that will provide for the needs of Islamic women. It is not just some mad place where they are going to be brainwashed by nonsense.”

He told the Lancashire Telegraph that a need had been identified for such a project and months of work had gone into finding an appropriate site.

"We hope to be up-and-running by the start of the next academic year," said Mr Bashir, who hopes to meet with representatives from Burnley council and the community in the coming weeks.

An estimated 1,100 students could become part of the boarding school project, a meeting of Burnley full council was told.

Coun Wajid Khan, welcoming the scheme, said: "Not one penny of taxpayers' money will be spent on this. It is all coming as a result of private donations.

"It is quite important that this council is aware of the facts in terms of this £2million investment in Burnley. It will be an international college, whether people believe that or not."

Coun Khan said that around £600,000 of the total funding required for the boarding school had been collected by the trust in a single two-hour fundraising exercise.

Coun Birtwistle said that no formal approach had yet been made to the council on the proposed college.

But he said: “It is an important building for the town and we would encourage anyone interested in the site to get in contact with us.”

Previously the former college buildings had been earmarked for housing, with the main building set to be converted into apartments and 89

target="_blank">homes built in the grounds.

But fears were raised about potential flooding problems caused by the River Brun.

There are very few Muslim girls’ boarding schools in the country, with the nearest being in Lancaster.