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Irvine Sellar opens new Southwark College shops in The Cut

A new floristry shop, cafe and hair salon at Southwark College's Waterloo centre - designed to help locals get jobs in the Shard skyscraper - has been opened by developer Irvine Sellar.

Irvine Sellar & Fiona Colley
Shard developer Irvine Sellar and Cllr Fiona Colley with the plaque marking the opening ceremony

Sellar, the developer of the Shard, Southwark Council and Southwark College have worked closely to develop a series of "real work environments" which provide hands on vocational training for local people.

Former classrooms and lecture theatres have been converted into training workshops and public retail units which will give students practical experience in dealing with customers as part of their courses.

The real work environments include a florist, a cafe, a hair and beauty salon and a fitness studio at the campus on The Cut, in addition to a construction centre at the college's Bermondsey centre.

The combined coffee shop and florists is now open to the public and the salon will welcome its first customers in the autumn.

The college says that it is now working closely with other businesses along The Cut, but the new shops attracted the ire of local traders when building works were carried out without planning permission.

The college told Borough & Bankside Community Council in April that it had carried out the building work before its planning application had been considered in order to avoid losing time-limited cash from the Skills Funding Agency. Deputy principal Phil Butler was forced to concede that the college hadn't done a good job of consulting its neighbours.

"This project is a great example of matching private and public investment to deliver creative benefits for local people and we are very grateful to all our partners for their commitment to this exciting project," said college principal Ruth Gilbert on Friday.

The project is part of Shard Southwark Vocational Programme, a 5 million initiative to ensure local residents get best possible access to opportunities in the tallest building in Western Europe.

"The innovative and highly practical real work environments, and the early collaborations with future occupiers give students a real edge when it comes to getting a job," says Cllr Fiona Colley, Southwark's cabinet member for regeneration.

"I would encourage our young people to look at the variety of courses available and sign up."

In addition to new training facilities, the council, college and developer say that they are working behind the scenes to secure first interviews for college students in a variety of jobs in the new "vertical city".

Opportunities include the new Shangri-La hotel, high level viewing gallery, offices and security and maintenance roles.

"Most people can see the Shard emerging skywards but now they can begin to see the wider benefits of the scheme for the local area and this facility gives Southwark residents access to gain the direct skills associated with jobs in the development," said Irvine Sellar.

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