Bristol’s first retail hub made of converted shipping containers gets go-ahead at Wapping Wharf

The green light has been given to plans for Cargo – Bristol’s first ever retail hub made of converted shipping containers – at Wapping Wharf, the city’s new harbourside community.

The news comes as Umberslade, the developer behind Wapping Wharf, reveals new plans for a second, similar retail hub on site, named Cargo 2, due to popular demand.

Stuart Hatton, director at Umberslade, said: “It has been great to receive such an enthusiastic response to our plans for Cargo. We have been inundated with expressions of interest from across the country, from pop-up street food vendors to fine dining restaurateurs. With 40 retailer enquiries in Cargo alone, we have decided to submit plans for a Cargo 2 to meet this demand.

“Both Cargo and Cargo 2 will be a fantastic addition to Bristol’s vibrant ‘foodie’ scene and fit in perfectly with our community ethos and focus on independent food and drink at the wider Wapping Wharf development.”

The first Cargo site will comprise 10 converted shipping container units of varying sizes and will be located between Gaol Ferry Steps – the new pedestrian walkway connecting south Bristol and the city centre – and Museum Square. Planners gave consent to the project last week, meaning work is expected to start in the coming months with completion expected in early summer.

The aim is to see the space 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 – will offer sweeping views of Bristol’s beautiful harbourside.

The single containers each measure 8ft by 20ft and will have glass frontages, offering views out onto the waterfront, with the ground-level units able to spill out onto a terrace. The lower level will be divided into five single units, plus three double units, while a larger unit – equivalent to the size of five individual containers – will occupy the top level, along with another double. The double containers measure 16ft by 20ft.

If the plans get the go-ahead, Cargo 2 would comprise 28 converted shipping containers across two levels and will be located adjacent to Cargo. Also with a focus on independent retailers, Cargo 2 will again include units of varying sizes, also featuring glass frontages. Plans have been submitted to the council and a decision expected in the coming weeks.

Stuart Hatton added: “It is a hugely exciting time for Wapping Wharf now that people are getting settled into their new homes and retailers are gearing up to open on site. Small Street Espresso will be opening a new cafe at Wapping Wharf soon and there are plenty of other announcements of this kind to come soon – watch this space!  We are aiming for an eclectic mix of retailers from pop-up juice bars to florists, barbers to burgers, fine dining to street food.”

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 194 homes and nearing completion. The site is the final piece in the jigsaw that will complete the regeneration of the iconic floating harbour.

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 will mark the first time this concept has been used as retail space.

The Bristol office of JLL are letting agents on the scheme.