Bristol’s first retail hub made of recycled shipping containers planned for Wapping Wharf

Bristol looks set to get its first ever retail hub made of shipping containers at Wapping Wharf – a concept that has proved popular in places like Shoreditch’s ‘Boxpark’.

If the plans get given the go-ahead, this ‘foodie’-focused retail hub, named Cargo, would comprise 10 recycled shipping container units and would be located in front of Bristol’s new harbourside Wapping Wharf development – between Gaol Ferry Steps and Museum Square.

The aim would be to see the site occupied by independent food and drink retailers, in line with the vision for Wapping Wharf to create a new ‘foodie’ quarter for the city with a strong community focus. Outside decking on the top of Cargo – the second of two levels – would offer sweeping views of Bristol’s beautiful harbourside – the perfect spot to relax in the sunshine during the summer months!

The units themselves – each measuring 8ft by 20ft – would have glass frontages, also offering views out onto the waterfront, with the ground-level units able to spill out onto a terrace. The lower level would be divided into five single units, plus three double units, while a larger unit – equivalent to the size of five individual containers – would occupy the top level, along with another double.

Stuart Hatton, director at Umberslade, the developer behind Wapping Wharf, said: “It is an exciting time for Wapping Wharf now that people have moved into their new homes and we have started to announce the names of the retailers that will join this emerging community. At the end of last year, we announced that Small Street Espresso would be opening a new cafe at Wapping Wharf, and we have more news of this kind to come soon.

“Cargo would see the creation of an additional cluster of retailers at Wapping Wharf, fitting in nicely with the independent, ‘foodie’ feel we are envisaging for this new Bristol quarter. The type of retailer we expect to see taking space at Cargo might be anything from a pop-up smoothie seller to a street food retailer – and everything in between – and we think this will be an excellent addition to the city’s vibrant food and drink scene.”

Hatton added: “The concept of transforming shipping containers into retail hubs is becoming increasingly popular. Boxpark in London is a well-known example, and a recent visit to New York – where indoor markets in temporary containers are popping up all over the place – also served as inspiration for Cargo. This style of space lends itself to the creation of a sense of community among the retailers and a real buzz about the place – and we hope we’ll create something similar here at Cargo in Bristol.”

Set to become a new, vibrant and community-focused neighbourhood for the city, Wapping Wharf will deliver over 600 apartments in total, with the first phase featuring 168 homes. It is anticipated that the apartments will be complemented with independent restaurants, cafes and shops. The site is the final piece in the jigsaw that will complete the regeneration of the iconic floating harbour.

As part of the Wapping Wharf development, an important new connection between the south of Bristol and the city centre is being created. Gaol Ferry Steps, which will be tree-lined, will run through from Gaol Ferry Bridge to the new public square. Landscape works to the route are progressing well.

Umberslade has submitted a planning application to Bristol City Council to install Cargo, with a decision expected over in a couple of months.

Bristol is already home to Engine Shed 2, shipping containers used as office space at Temple Meads and an extension of the enterprise hub, Engine Shed, but Cargo would mark the first time this concept has been used as retail space.