Nelson College London will start courses this September at former Christ Church campus in Broadstairs

CAMPUS PLANS: (from left) John Karicka, Shamshar Rahman and director Nazim Uddin, of NCL, estate agent Terry Painter and NCL rep

Students and tutors are set to fill the former university campus buildings in Broadstairs once more when the new owners begin courses this September.

The campus buildings have been taken over by Nelson College London which will be offering HND courses in business and hospitality management.

The independent college was founded in 2009 and began operating in the London Borough of Redbridge. It has two other campus locations in Ilford and Gants Hill.

Members of the NCL team were at the site today (May 29) for the launch of Roostys café/function room at the Allen building and say they hope to attract more local businesses to take space on the site.

John (centre) with Shamshar (left) and NCL colleague

Recruitment officer John Karicka is a former student and also a Margate resident. He suggested taking on the former Christ Church site to bring NCL courses to Thanet.

He said: “I lived in Margate since I was eight years old. I was a student at Nelson College 6 years ago and made a change to my life with the management course.

“I went back to the college to suggest opening a site in Margate and then we looked at this building.”

Recruitment manager Shamshar Rahman says the decision to take the campus site was prompted by the wish to bring the college to students rather than ask them to come to London.

He said: “We have been getting demand from a lot of local people but there are difficulties for travelling to London so we thought it would be good to have a campus here and make it convenient for local people. We looked at a few sites but they weren’t suitable for our needs and then John spoke to us about this campus.

“The directors came and immediately liked it and so the process started. It’s about us going to the people who need these opportunities.”

The Broadstairs campus

Courses will begin in September with, initially, 50-100 students although this number is expected to grow.

Shamshar says the aim is not just to educate but also to make sure students get on the career pathway.

He said: “We have links with employers  and the government push is for students to go into employment and for it to be a better salary than where they started off, it has to be something better.

“Through our Knowledge Exchange Centre we liaise with employers and connect our students with them either while they are studying or when they have finished.”

The courses are more flexible to access than many other higher education sites. The HND courses are level 3 but for those who may not have level 2 – or indeed any – qualifications, having two years of work experience instead will help them enrol.

Further plans for the buildings are to house a gym and NHS services which may include doctors surgeries, a pharmacy and a yoga centre.

Shamshar says there are also opportunities for local businesses to take space at the site and urges anyone interested to get in touch.

The former student accommodation

There is a possibility that the Northwood Court building will again be used for student accommodation after news that a Thanet Earth bid to take it on for workers rooms may not now progress despite a planning application currently lodged with Thanet council.

There are now negotiations for Northwood Court with another interested party but student rooms have not been ruled out although the aim is for courses to be accessed by those who already live locally.

The Northwood Court site, on the corner of Northwood Road, has a total of 86 en-suite bedrooms and a number of shared dining room and kitchen facilities.

Previous interest came from Thanet council which had hoped to procure the building for emergency homelessness accommodation.

The former Broadstairs student accommodation site

Then-council leader Ash Ashbee said last year: “I have been trying to procure the building for Thanet council. I have been putting together a financial plan so we could provide accommodation for emergency housing for our homeless in Thanet.”

Cllr Ashbee said the council had been close to being able to put in a “complete offer” for the site, adding: “The accommodation is set out into single rooms and would not have been suitable for families unless we did some work. We didn’t want to take it on as single rooms and had a design to try and provide between 16-20 units suitable for families.”

However, according to marketing information terms were agreed but then a deadline to complete was missed.

Kent County Council had also expressed interest to use the site for unaccompanied asylum seeking children and there had been interest from an NHS and Age UK partnerships.

Prior to that there had been a proposal for a health hub but the interested party had been unable to obtain the required partners and funding. Another proposal was for the site to be used for ex-service personnel but this too fell through.

The building was briefly used by Clearsprings Ready Homes last November for people seeking asylum but this was cut short after just three days.

The Thanet Earth bid had been accepted by NCL in December and a planning application has been lodged with Thanet council but Shamshar said it is understood to no longer be going forward.

The former university campus

The Christ Church Broadstairs campus was created in 2000 to provide access to higher education for local people.

It had over 800 students from the area studying there at the start of 2018 but was  closed to students from September that year as the university gradually relocated courses to Canterbury as part of its 10 to 15-year Estate Master Plan and £150million investment in new buildings and facilities in the city.

In October 2018, estate agents were appointed to market the student block and the Allen & Carey Buildings as a collective or separately, with Northwood Court being offered as one lot and the Allen & Carey buildings as a separate lot.

NCL director Nazim Uddin declares the new Roostys venue at the campus site open

Nelson College London proceeded with an offer in September 2021 for all the buildings and the purchase completed in May 2022.

However, Nelson College does not need all the space and is offering some space for lease. Roostys, which has a bakery/shop in Ramsgate, is the first to move in and opened its cafe/function room at the Allen building today.

To find out about the HND courses, or about available space for businesses, contact John Karicka by emailing [email protected] or call 07960870478.