An iconic Lincoln building which is at risk will be brought back into use after 20 years.
The Greyfriars will become a visitor attraction, with councillors hailing the upcoming refurbishment as a “great achievement”.
A café will be created on the ground floor, and a heritage area and event space on the first floor.
The building dates back to the 1200s and is believed to be the oldest Franciscan church in western Europe, but experts say its condition requires immediate attention.
The plans were brought by the City of Lincoln Council, who have worked in partnership with Heritage Lincolnshire to find a new use for the building.
It began life as a friary, and has also been a free school, wool factory, a mechanics’ institute and a museum over the years. It most recently closed in 2004 due to the lack of visitors.
The original western entrance on Free School Lane will now be re-instated, and the Victorian extension will be demolished.
The scheme was made possible thanks to £175,000 of lottery funding.
Councillor Gary Hewson told the planning committee: “It is important to make the building viable, thus the café. We have always been looking to bring this building back into use, and it’s a great achievement that it’s finally happened.
“It has been derelict for a great number of years, which puts it at higher risk. This will present more opportunities.”
Councillor Chris Burke said: “This is a very significant addition to the sense of history in this part of the town. The nearby St Swithin’s Church may be in disuse, but at least we can be positive about this being restored.”
Council officers said that the refurbishment would bring real benefits both for the preservation of the building and the city.
The refurbishment will aim to conserve as much as possible from the original building.