Southampton may be one of the world’s most famous ports, even if the primary reason for that is because the best-known ship to sail from it never made it across the Atlantic, but one bunch of shipping containers heading to the city will not be loaded onto any ships.
Instead, a number of modified shipping containers are set to take up residence in a car park on College Street, which is located on the edge of the city centre close to the Ocean Village and the ferry terminal.
The Southern Daily Echo reports that the city council has agreed to lease part of the car park to College Street Yard Ltd (CYSL), which will install and array of converted containers used for different purposes around a central courtyard space. The uses will include homes, shops, offices and cafes.
A council spokesperson said: “CSYL is a new company with an interest in setting up a shipping container village on part of the College Street car park,” adding: “The directors are local to the area and are involved with various property projects in Southampton.”
While this will take 67 car parking spaces out of use, the council noted that the car park has been “underutilised” as work patters have changed, with the level of parking still below pre-pandemic levels.
The project has the support of the local business community, including the Business Improvement District, the council stressed. Although a small number of objections had been raised against the scheme, the project gained planning permission in October 2021. Since then, CYSL has been seeking funding, which it now has in place.
Provided the lease is now confirmed the project is set to be open either next summer or in early 2024. CYSL will be responsible for maintaining the site and the containers, as well as eventually restoring the site for use as a car park as and when that is required.
The range of uses for shipping containers is broader than that of many clusters that have been established in other cities, were there tend to be more specific themes.
For example, in Bristol the CARGO array of shipping containers at Wapping Wharf contains various food and drink outlets. In Manchester, Hatch is a broader mix of small independent retailers selling food, drink, fashion, jewellery and beauty services.
Other cities and towns across the UK have been seeking to follow suit, although in one case the process of getting an array of repurposed containers up and running has proved tricky.
Sheffield has set up its own cluster of containers at Fargate in Sheffield, with a number of different independent traders setting up to provide what the city council hopes will be an attractive feature of the city centre that will bring more footfall.
However, due to red tape the opening has been repeatedly delayed, as the building control team has not yet received important information that is legally required before the site can open.
The latest of several scheduled openings, on October 16th, has been postponed again, with director of streetscene and regulations at the city council Richard Eyre commenting: “Unfortunately, our building control teams are awaiting technical information from the operator. Until the outstanding information is received the container park cannot open. “