AN 'Oscar-winning' businessman's project to transform a former school into a digital hub for companies has completed its first phase.

Mark Crabtree, who runs Burnley-headquartered company AMS Neve, and business partner, David Walker, have spent the last eight months converting the former Burnley Grammar School into a workspace for more than 100 businesses.

The School Lane building, which dates back to the 16th Century, now has an assembly hall, members lounge, conference room, reception and multi-function workspace.

AMS Neves founder Mr Crabtree has conquered the world in digital sound engineering and his company has provided the equipment used to mix the soundtrack for Hollywood blockbusters such as Star Wars and Avatar as well as Oscar-winning film, The Artist.

Mr Crabtree said he was thrilled with the progress made so far in the multi-million pound project and hopes to complete it by 2020.

The 66-year-old, who has likened the building to The Landing at Manchester's Media City, said: "I hope it will become a flagship for Burnley and the region."

He later said: "Everybody who has been in here so far has said the atmosphere is fantastic. My design appeals to a younger age group in a building that goes back to the 1800s. It has a mix of the new and the old."

Around 50 people, including builders, plumbers and plasterers, have been on working on the site since the refurbishment started in May.

The main hall has been turned into a ‘super meeting space', with the intention of bringing global tech giants Google and Microsoft to Burnley.

Mr Walker, founder of digital marketing company +24Marketing, said the process has been a big learning curve, having never been involved in a project like this before.

He also said: "A lot of large businesses will want to be involved and to help support the growing, smaller companies. Our aim is to create a collaborative environment between businesses."

Burnley businessman Mark O' Neil, who runs a web design company called On Design, has already used the new workspace.

The 30-year-old said: "It's great and a lovely space to work in. I work with people in Manchester and Liverpool,which means I can be at any of these places within an hour from here."

The project will now enter the second and third phase of the renovation, which includes creating a glass atrium and turning the former grammar school gym into workspace units. It is hoped the full transformation of the building will be completed by the start of the new year.