Council chiefs explore plan for restaurant in Carlisle's civic centre

The civic centre in December 2015
The civic centre in December 2015

The possibility of opening a restaurant or art gallery in Carlisle’s civic centre has been explored by council bosses.

An option to demolish the octagon annexe, which houses the council chamber, is currently being discussed by members of Carlisle City Council - with plans to relocate the existing facility to a multi-purpose “conference centre” on a newly-refurbished ground floor.

The authority says that demolishing the octagon will allow the existing car park to be expanded, generating much-needed revenue.

Dr Les Tickner, the council’s deputy leader, said that a consultation had taken place exploring alternative uses for the annexe.

“We looked at the possibility of putting a restaurant or an art gallery in there,” he said.

“But there weren’t any takers. So we’re now looking at demolishing it instead.”

He added: “We explored the possibility of finding someone to take it. The problem with things like art galleries is that they’re dependant on securing funding.

“I also don’t think anyone was keen because of the risk of flooding.”

The plans, also including the possibility of creating a multi-agency hub within the civic centre, have already been shown to members of the council’s executive.

They will be put before all council members in September. “If something’s agreed then it’s all systems go,” Dr Tickner said.

While he said that he would like the octagon to stay, Dr Tickner admitted that the existing chamber is not fit for purpose.

 Les Tickner

Les Tickner

“It’s quite iconic,” he added. “But the temperature in there isn’t very good and the sound quality appalling.

“We’re desperate for revenue and if it’s demolished then we can recoup that from the car park.

“The existing one that’s there is already well-used and will continue to be so if it’s expanded.”

Dr Tickner added that the new conference centre will also be better equipped and entirely funded from a £3.4 million insurance payout. He reiterated that the demolition of the octagon annexe will be funded through the savings made from utility bills.

“We’re not down to discussing the colour of the carpet and the walls but we’ve got an idea in place.

“There’ll be glass screens that can be moved and it should be much easier to clean and reinstate if it floods again. It will be more resilient,” he said.

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