Discussions with a “potential experienced developer” for the derelict Central Plaza hotel are ongoing, say Carlisle City Council.

The council asked interested parties - who have ideas for developing the huge site on Victoria Place - to submit expressions of interest before December 31 last year.

A council spokeswoman said: “After we invited developers to come forward with ‘expressions of interest’ in late 2018, discussions are ongoing with a potential experienced developer.

“This is looking at the potential business case and costings.

“A formal proposal is awaited and although no decision on the way forward is imminent, we remain focused on achieving a positive outcome for the site.”

Last summer the viaduct, where the hotel stands, had to be shut to cars and pedestrians so emergency repairs could be carried out.

Giant cranes had to be brought in from elsewhere and they moved onto the site.

The cranes could be seen across the city working day and night to remove several tonnes of masonry from the building to make it safe.

The road closure wreaked havoc on local businesses – with many forced to close or relocate for weeks – and motorists who had to find alternative routes.

Inveniam, a company based in Newcastle, announced plans in May to transform the former ownerless hotel into a 60-bedroom hotel with a bar, bistro, meeting and office space.

Carlisle City Council is not the owner of the Central Plaza building and while it says it is “supportive” of moving development forward, it has only statutory rather than legal duties in respect of the building.

The hotel closed in 2004 and has remained vacant since.

Several failed attempts to redevelop the property have left the building in a poor condition.

Hoardings have been placed around the building in an attempt to make it look more attractive.

Emergency work to improve structural safety was undertaken the city council last year under the Building Act 1984.