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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Can glory days come back to Carlisle's Botchergate?

A document setting out how Carlisle’s run-down Botchergate might return to its glory days is set to be approved by the city council’s ruling executive.

Botchergate photo
Botchergate

The council published a Draft Botchergate Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan last year.

It calls for the restoration of neglected Victorian buildings and the demolition of unsightly and 1970s structures in St Nicholas Street.

And it suggests that Christ Church Gardens and the St Nicholas Street/London Road junction could be revamped to become attractive features.

The council held a six-week public consultation on the management plan between January and March and received 43 written responses.

A task group of councillors has studied those responses and will report its findings to the executive on Monday.

Labour’s Steven Bowditch, who was part of the task group, said: “There were some really good suggestions and a lot of praise for what some landlords have achieved already. The ideas included planting more trees and removing unsightly railings. Generally, the feedback was positive.

“We have to be realistic though. The council is limited as to how much it can do without the support of the landlords who own the buildings.”

The consultation brought calls for the council to use legal powers to force landlords to improve unsightly buildings and, in extreme cases, demolish them.

One asked for a ban on more takeaway food outlets and for the replacement of “tacky” shop fronts.

Another said the northern end of Botchergate should be pedestrianised. There was support too for the removal of out-of-keeping 1960s structures.

The full council is due to adopt the management plan on July 17.

Botchergate was made a conservation area in 1994.

The northern end saw something of a revival in the following decade with the opening of a cinema, new pubs and bars and, in 2004, English Gate Plaza.

Now the focus has switched to the southern end with McKnight & Son’s restoration of Stanley Hall.

There is a planning application to turn the former Sherwood Hotel, at the corner of Tait Street, into apartments. And Cumbria County Council has just announced that it intends to build a new HQ on William Street car park, off Botchergate, accommodating up to 1,000 staff.

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