The former library building in Ashburton Park will re-open this summer as a combined community space and an education base to support young people with medical or behavioural needs.
It will be leased and run by the Nisai Group after the council chose them from amongst 22 bidders.
The Nisai group has been established since 1996 and currently operates from Harrow, Nottingham and Stockton-On-Tees. Nisai is an online school that provides live interactive classes for students who are not able to attend mainstream schools. In partnership with Fit 2 Learn they will provide services focussed on students with special educational needs and who face other barriers to learning. The goal is to build soft skills and achieve vocational training and recognised qualifications.
Fit 2 Learn CIC is a Croydon social enterprise founded in 2012. They provide therapies for children, young people, and adults who either have learning difficulties or SEND conditions, or who are vulnerable or experiencing anxiety. Their approach is unique in the UK, addressing underlying physiological and developmental problems by improving motor skills, sound and vision processing and cognition. Fit 2 Learn is an active member of the Croydon Social Enterprise Network.
There will be spaces for local community groups to hire during the week and at the weekend. This also includes a large hall available to rent for parties or other events. A full-time café will also be run from the building, within which Nisai will secure apprenticeships and training for young people.
The building has just been granted planning permission for renovation and extension works, and the council is looking to spend in excess of £1m bringing it up to modern standard before the opening in the summer.
“I’m delighted to announce this new partnership with Nisai. It’s fantastic that as well as delivering facilities that all park users can enjoy we will also be creating a learning environment within which children with particular needs can be helped to reach their full potential.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
“We set out a promise to turn this beautiful, but neglected, old building into a vibrant community hub to benefit the local community – and we’re delivering on that promise. The council is now investing a significant sum of money to ensure the space is fully refurbished to a high standard so everyone who uses the park can enjoy the new facilities.”
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure, and sport,
The decision to select Nisai was made after a public tender exercise which was widely publicised to prospective businesses. The selection panel included members of the Friends of Ashburton Park to ensure the successful bidder was likely to meet the needs of local people.
Dhruv Patel, CEO of Nisai Group, said: “We’re very pleased to have won the tender and Ashburton Park is an exciting new venture for us. Together with our partners Croydon local authority and Fit 2 Learn, we hope to replicate the positive results we have achieved at our Hub in Nottingham and provide a comprehensive provision for local students. Additionally, we will also be offering skills training courses for adults. We intend to create a centre that will be a real asset to the local community.”