Two Surbiton mums have teamed up to get an abandoned day nursery back in to use as a hub for people with autism and their families.
Annette Williams and Tracey Gaggiotti who both have autistic children, want Kingston Council to transfer ownership of Fairmead Day Nursery to them for use as a space to support young people with autism and their families.
A petition set up to transform the building in Ewell Road, Tolworth, already has more than 700 signatures.
Mrs Gaggiotti said: “It is often difficult for families with an autistic child to get out and do normal things so we would like to provide a supportive environment.
“It is in the hands of the council to go through the processes. They will have to weigh up this bid against others. I think there is an awareness of a need.
“We have had the idea for about two or three years but we have been trying to build up support in the community. People are very supportive. They don’t want to see a derelict site down there.”
The pair set up Express, a not-for-profit community interest company, to nominate the nursery as a community asset last year.
The nursery has been empty for more than two years and was previously a dance studio.
Mrs Williams said: “We really hope for a positive outcome. It has [the nursery] been empty for a number of years.
“We see it as a good site for transport links and to be nearer the high street – to be part of the community.”
There are more than 300 young people and 1,700 adults with autism in the borough.
The petition states: “Express's vision is for a cafe and hub in the heart of the community which provides an autism-friendly environment to include quiet areas and sensory areas, creating a social space where individuals and families can not only access practical support but can also socialise and express themselves.”
A spokesman from Kingston Council said: "The council is in discussion with Express in relation to their proposal.
"The petition is expected to be presented to council in April and be referred to the Policy and Resources Committee."
The petition is available until February 28 online at epetition.kingston.public-i.tv/epetition_core/community/petition/2470
To find out more about Express visit expresscic.org.uk