PLANNING approval has been granted for a new Carlisle city centre bar as planners highlighted a falling demand for office space amid increased levels of home working.

The Devonshire Street venue formerly operated as an estate agents and the change of use - involving the ground and first floor - will have to be implemented in the next three years, say officials.

Explaining their approval of the application, planners say that Devonshire Street has in recent times become a hub for bars, cafes and restaurants.

Though it continues to have "significant" office space, some residential use and some retail outlets (including a Greggs), the area has seen an expansion of outlets such as Pizza Express, Maggie Elliot's, Sweet Tooth and The Fat Gadgie.

Planners say: "The current site is situated amid this rapidly changing... environment now strongly characterised by its leisure and food and drink mainstay and has become available because its last occupants have moved to an out-of-town location.

"This, to some extent, represents a current trend for such movements because larger, more modern and accessible offices with less maintenance requirements and more ergonomic layouts have become more logical to occupy.

"Further, the recent advent of increased home and remote working due to the Covid pandemic has in part identified a reduced need for office-based businesses to be located in town centres."

Planners highlight a local policy to support the city's centre "vitality and viability" and boost a diverse mix of use, bringing currently vacant buildings or offices back into use to help generate job growth.

The document adds: "The proposed change of use would to a certain extent add to the concentration of drinking and eating establishments within Devonshire Street.

"However, the scale of the development in this relatively modest building is compatible with the locality and would not give rise to an unacceptable concentration of drinking establishments, despite adding to overall characterisation by increment.

"Rather, it would be complementary in amongst the other related leisure and food and drink offers. The Devonshire Street environment tends to attract a certain section of users who lean more towards genteel eating and drinking as opposed, for example, to parts of Botchergate which lean much more towards drinking and clubbing later into the night.

"That is a different and more extreme form of concentration and is quite different to Devonshire Street." The application was prepared by the Black Box Architects, itself based in Devonshire Street.