Could new artisan market host Ipswich's own 'Cavern Club?'

Microshops in Carr Street

Microshops has taken on the former Peacocks store in Carr Street. - Credit: Paul Geater

An indoor artisan market and Ipswich's answer to the world-famous Cavern Club could be on the way to the former Peacock's store if ambitious plans to redevelop the site are realised.

Developers Microshops Ipswich want to convert the former clothes shop in Carr Street into an indoor market offering stalls, or "pods", to retailers selling specialist individual projects.

Among early enquiries have been a proposal for a coffee stall selling hot drinks, with ground coffee to take away and home-made cakes.

Microshops is working with Art Eat Events, which ran the successful Art Eat Festival on Ipswich Waterfront in 2019, to set up the new centre - and hopes to be able to open its doors in phases from June this year.

Iona Hodgson from Art Eats Events said the aim was to have high-quality local products on sale: "We shan't be offering space to people who want to sell cheap toys from the other side of the world - but would like to have local crafts people selling things like wooden toys here."

Iona Hodgson

Iona Hodgson from Art Eat Events. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

They would like to offer space to street-food sellers - but selling hot food would require a change in planning.

Ms Hodson said: "You can sell hot coffee and cold cakes from a shop - but once you get hot food you need extractors and things like that and you need a different kind of planning."

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The hope is that the first phase of the Microshop could be up and running by the end of May or start of June if there are enough applicants approved - as some pitches would be very small costing from just £100 a week all in.

The second phase of the development, towards the back of the former shop, would happen later as more pitches were sold.

And ultimately the site has even more potential.

Ms Hodgson said: "There is quite a large basement under the back of the unit - and that might make a good live music venue. 

"It is very early days and certainly we don't have the resources to consider doing anything there at this time, but it could be something to look at in the future - never say never!"

She said it would be a good site because there is little residential property in the immediate area to face disruption.

Art Eat Events and Microshops have been talking to Business Improvement District (BID) company Ipswich Central about the plans - and they welcomed the proposed new development.

Chief Operating Officer Sophie Alexander-Parker said: "This is a really interesting concept which is new for Ipswich, we're looking forward to seeing the space filled with a high-quality offering.

"Not only is this a creative solution to filling a large vacant unit but will bring something different to the town centre which is great.

"We need to start thinking differently about the experiences in the town and how empty spaces can be brought back to life; this is an exciting first step".

Anyone interested in taking a pitch at Microshops Ipswich can contact Art Eat Events here.