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Awards 2022

Tribe Carlisle to launch at Bitts Park

A start up community interest company has won the contract to operate Carlisle City Council’s new cultural and creative courtyard in Bitts Park.

Tribe Carlisle CIC won the competitive tender and is now recruiting independent local businesses to occupy the site.

Cllr Stephen Higgs, Portfolio holder for Culture, Heritage and Leisure, said:

“The temporary Bitts Park courtyard will be based close to the car park. It will be populated by local businesses and will provide additional amenities for the benefit of park users.

“It will be constructed from six upcycled containers and will house up to 13 small independent businesses, with a diverse mixture of tenants that includes food and drink, retail and arts. Tenants will be either start-ups, looking to grow or well-established in the local area, which will ensure a collaborative, diverse and progressive working environment.

“We have successfully secured £150,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to support the design and creation of the site. The money comes from accelerated funding in relation to Carlisle’s overall Towns Fund application.

“The project is part of our overall plans to support the local economy post-Covid. These plans include short, medium and long term initiatives funded through the various government schemes.”

Tribe Carlisle Director, Joe Gardham, said:

We are inviting expressions of interest now from anybody in Carlisle who has a small business and needs a stepping stone to their own space, or anyone sat on an idea without the opportunity to make it reality.

“It costs over £50,000 to set up your first shop in the city by the time you’ve paid your rent, business rates, utilities and fit out. Add in stock and staff, and this is beyond the reach of a lot of budding entrepreneurs. Our model is to subsidise these overheads through our innovative build model, making a space at Tribe affordable and accessible.

“Once you’re sustainable and viable, our ambition is to see you graduate to the city centre and start bringing some of those empty shop fronts back to life. We’re the launchpad for this. The space to experiment. To make mistakes without losing your livelihood.

“Tribe is the perfect place for weekend street market traders, sous chefs dreaming of their own kitchen, online sellers, kitchen table entrepreneurs and everything in between. There’s no such thing as a bad idea!”

As part of the operating model, all tenants will be required to reinvest back into local disadvantaged communities. This could be donating a share of profits, sharing time and expertise, or creating job opportunities. There are also no shareholders, so all profits are reinvested into the site and Bitts Park area, with an independent advisory group formed to support decision making and distribution.

Joe added:

“I have fallen in love with Carlisle, having spent the last four years seeking, designing and delivering a new space for the city’s residents. Carlisle has an underbelly of grassroots creativity; this scheme at Bitts Park is the perfect space for the city’s creatives to express themselves.

“Also, in line with my own values, I believe we can demonstrate ‘profit with purpose’ throughout this project, and show how small, local, independent businesses can really reinvest in their community, whilst still making a decent living. From my many conversations and meetings in Carlisle over the years, I know that many residents in the city want and need this.”

The site is nearing completion and will open this summer once all traders have been recruited. There will be a selection of open days this month to view the spaces.

To express an interest, you can complete a quick form at