Economic boost on cards for city
Carlisle is set for an economic boost - with 3,000 new jobs taking a step forward, further details revealed about a key hotel development and work starting on a base which could be home to a major firm.
The mammoth job haul could be created on Carlisle's first Enterprise Zone at Kingmoor Park.
Plans for an expansion of Carlisle luxury apart-hotel The Halston on Warwick Road are also coming to fruition, creating another 50 jobs.
On Castle Street in the city centre, a major development is underway at Rufus House, which could be the new corporate base for the Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
Scaffolding has gone up on the front of the building and on the roof.
Developers of The Halston - Burge Halston - say they have spent about £6m so far transforming what was a decaying part of the city.
They have breathed new life into the former Post Office building on Warwick Road, converting it into an award-winning place to stay.
Now, they're about to spread that regeneration a step further - creating new jobs in the next two years - as their redevelopment of the former Lloyds Pharmacy building, on the corner of Cecil Street and Warwick Road, nears completion.
This is set to be a new bar or restaurant.
Simon Harrison, director of the Halston and speaking on behalf of Burge Halston Ltd, saidare in negotiations with various partners for a tenant for the former Lloyds Pharmacy.
"We have had various parties interested but we didn’t feel some of them complemented what we had down the street at the Halston.
"A retailer was interested but we've decided we don't want it to be a shop. Two parties are interested at the moment.
"It could be one big unit or three smaller units.
"We hope to have the first tenant in the bar or restaurant area by September."
He added: "The rooms above the former chemist will open in July as we want to pick up demand for all the concerts that are coming to Carlisle this summer."
Meanwhile, the firm has taken back the unit next to the Halston, which had been occupied by gourmet burger chain Belted.
The firm announced its closure this week due lack of trade.
The two parties had come to a private arrangement and Mr Harrison said this will now be incorporated into their expansion plans.
He told The Cumberland News: "We've wanted more space for the Halston for the last 18 months and we're now considering what to do with it.
"We've had interest in the past but what has happened with Belted happened quite quickly.
"Meetings have taken place with architects and planners as to what we could now do with that space.
"It's important for us to get it right. We want to get the former Lloyds Pharmacy building and the Belted part sorted so we can start building on the former Lonsdale site early next year.
"We've spent about £6m so far and the new development will cost more. I can't put an exact figure on it.
"I expect we will create about 50 jobs over the next two years."
Plans for a new building on the site of the former Lonsdale Cinema were given the go-ahead in October.
The new five-storey development, designed by city architects Black Box, will host 19 apartments, a restaurant and top-floor balcony.
It will be linked to the existing building by a glass bridge.
Mr Harrison said: "I think Warwick Road has come a long way in the last five years. The Halston wasn't even here then.
"We are really confident that Carlisle is heading in the right direction.
"It is still seen as a destination place to come on a weekend and we want to capitalize on that.
"Warwick Road is a premium site for dining and entertainment."
Developments in the north of the city mean businesses who locate to Kingmoor Park could be offered rate relief and relaxed planning rules.
One of the first businesses to take advantage is a Sytner Mercedes-Benz car dealership which has submitted an application to the council.
A national petrol station forecourt operator and a national pub chain are also said to be interested in locating to the industrial estate.
At a meeting, Jane Meek, Carlisle City Council's director of economic development, confirmed that there had already been expressions of interest in the Kingmoor Park Enterprise Zone site from businesses.
She told a meeting of the council's environment and economy overview and scrutiny panel: "As a city council, we have been supportive when there has been these expressions of interest."
Labour city councillor Heather Bradley added that the prediction was that the new Enterprise Zone should ultimately create more than 3,000 jobs and she said it was in everybody's interests that those jobs should be high quality and well paid.
The hope is that preferential conditions - including relaxed planning rules - will help boost investment at Kingmoor Park.
Any rate reilef, which businesses moving to the site enjoy, will ultimately be funded not by the council but by central government, the meeting heard.
Across the city, planning permission has been granted for work to be carried out on Rufus House on Castle Street.
Last year, the Edinburgh Woollen Mill said it was considering moving its corporate base to Carlisle with a multi-million pound overhaul of a vacant office building - Rufus House - in the city centre.