A CHARITY can convert an office block into a fully-fledged centre to “enrich the community”, councillors said.
Education charity Shishukunj was granted planning permission by Harrow Council’s planning committee on Wednesday last week to transform and extend its current headquarters, Gemini House in High Street, Edgware, into more suitable premises called Shishukunj Community Centre.
President Bhupen Shah said: “We’re absolutely excited and thrilled with the planning consent for us to develop the property and it’s a momentous occasion for our organisation.
“We’re looking to start work in August this year and we expect it will take some 12 to 18 months to complete, and we will continue to use the building on a skeletal basis.”
Gemini House’s limitations mean Shishukunj – which combines the Sanskrit words for ‘children’ and ‘garden’ – can only use the building for weekend performing arts classes and so it hires Claremont High School in Claremont Avenue, Kenton, and two other schools in Finchley, north London, and Croydon, south London, to hold classes and sessions for youngsters on Saturdays and Sundays.
Once Shishunkunj Community Centre opens, the charity intends to introduce a wider programme of classes for all ages such as yoga, art and crafts, music and dance, martial arts and adult learning, along with mother and toddler sessions, study clubs and a day centre for the elderly.
Mr Shah said: “We’ll be able to run a lot more activities to enrich the whole community.
“We exist for the holistic development of children into tomorrow’s leaders and good citizens with high moral values although one thing we’re not is a religion-based organisation. We’re a non-profit making organisation and therefore wherever we can have volunteers supporting us free of charge, we’re able to provide activities for free or for a very nominal fee to cover costs.”
Shishunkunj, which draws its membership from all over the capital, sold its previous headquarters in Willesden Green and moved to Gemini House in 2009, and is now seeking benefactors to help raise the £600,000 needed for the conversion work.