Heritage chiefs talking up the merits of a crumbling Carlisle landmark set to make way for industrial units have been accused of looking through “rose-tinted glasses”.

Veteran Carlisle city councillor John Collier made the comments as the city council’s planning panel voted to bulldoze the White Horse Centre in Harraby to create five new industrial units after hearing that the building was “dangerous” and beyond saving.

Heritage concerns had been raised but councillors received assurances that the building was in such a poor state that successful restoration would be “unlikely”.

Casting his mind back to the 1980s, coun Collier said buildings of “far more architectural importance” had been knocked down to make way for the Lanes Shopping Centre.

Cllr David Morton asked why the building’s importance was only being raised now, with the bulldozers poised to descend.
He said: “I think somebody’s got to bite the bullet. It’s disappointing that a building of architectural interest is in danger and this one clearly is. In my view it should go.

“How strange is that there were all the years it’s been there no one has had the slightest interest in it until someone comes along and wants to develop it. It’s beyond saving and nobody else is interested in it.”

Planning officer Richard Maunsell said its deterioration was “regrettable” but also stressed that the building itself was not listed and nor was in the conservation area.

Two letters of support said the plans to level the run-down historic building to create the new employment space would regenerate and enhance a dilapidated site.

Supporters also described the former White Horse building as “haven for vermin” as well as a hotspot for “antisocial behaviour” – issues which they hope the scheme would resolve.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Lisa Brown agreed it was “really sad” that the building had fallen into such a state of disrepair.

But she added that the building had been targeted by vandals and that the scheme would help to create a “safe area”.

“I think it’s in our interests as a city council to put a line under this and get it knocked down and get it developed so we can provide some sort of employment here,” she said.

As part of the conditions, the building will be recorded for posterity and a report submitted to the planning authority.

County council heritage chiefs have described the long-abandoned Victorian building, just outside the Carlisle to Settle conservation area, as having “architectural and historical value”

And despite the deterioration, they said the former hide and skin works on Tyne Street make a “positive contribution” to the character of the area and have called on the brick and sandstone landmark to be preserved if possible.

Network Rail is among those who have backed the plans amid health and safety concerns for their workforce, who regularly pass by the site, and for other pedestrians.

A single letter objection letter been received, which raises concerns about public safety and increased traffic on the “Tyne Street bottleneck”.