Could Weston soon be home to it's own answer to Bristol's Wapping Wharf?

Cargo at Wapping Wharf. Google.

Cargo, at Bristol's Wapping Wharf, has been a big success - Credit: Google Street View

Weston's answer to Wapping Wharf - with restaurants operating out of shipping containers - could transform 'blights' on the town until hundreds of new homes are built. 

Consultants JLL are advising North Somerset Council (NSC) to install 20 shipping containers at Dolphin Square and other land proving difficult to develop as it seeks a development partner for several sites it owns or is looking to acquire.

Cargo, at the Wapping Wharf development in Bristol, is home to a host of independent eateries and shops in converted shipping containers. 

It turned the city's Harbourside into a culinary destination and last year, the owners applied to extend their temporary permission by five years.

And a report to next week’s full NSC council meeting says something similar could be done in Weston.

"The visible nature of these sites awaiting development, particularly at Dolphin Square, is seen by many as a blight on the town centre," it says. 

"Increasingly, local authorities and other owners of such sites are looking to temporary uses (known as meanwhile uses) to bring activity and new attractions to sites. 

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"A local example is Wapping Wharf in Bristol, where shipping containers have been converted into short-term, low-rent premises for a range of innovative and entrepreneurial independent businesses. 

"This helps animate the space prior to development, and raises the profile and attractiveness to future residents and investors. 

"Where businesses prosper and grow, there is the potential for them to move into permanent premises nearby. Careful curation and targeted placemaking is key, and a community / neighbourhood focus helps sustain activity throughout the year." 

Dolphin_Square_-_Google_Maps_-_2020-01-06_15.21.01

Dolphin Square in Weston could be home to such a scheme - Credit: Google Maps

JLL said there was a good level of interest, particularly from the food and drink sector, but it would be limited by the relatively short timescale of around five years. 

It recommended an initial scheme with seven operators in around 20 shipping containers. 

Dolphin Square, which has been used as a temporary car park, is allocated for 220 homes. 

The report says Homes England has accepted an offer from the council for it, as well as the 'Station Gateway' at Locking Road and Sunnyside Road, which are allocated for 300 homes. 

The authority is seeking a development partner for these and Walliscote Place, the site of the former police station, where 70 homes could be built. 

The report says the sites are financially and practically challenging. 

The council has secured more than £1 million to remove a fuel tank at Walliscote Place that had put off investors, while development at Dolphin Square is currently complicated by the presence of a large electrical substation that could cost £2 million to move. 

It could sweeten the deal by including the second phase of its Parklands Village project to "reduce and offset financial risks", as the site has outline planning permission for 275 homes and a primary school. 

Measures will be put in place to ensure the partner does not just focus on Parklands to the exclusion of the town centre. 

The authority is offering nearly £700,000 to provide affordable housing and making the properties more sustainable. 

Work is expected to start by March 2024. 

The magistrate's court at Walliscote Place is proposed to be excluded from the procurement due to the specialist nature of the restoration work needed, but could be included on an optional basis. 

Councillors will consider the report on February 15