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Carlisle council's £2m bill if former Border studios site doesn't sell

Efforts are being stepped up to attract new businesses to the old Border TV site at Durranhill, Carlisle.

Border demolition photo
Border's former buildings were cleared

But if they fail, Carlisle City Council could be landed with a £2 million bill.

The TV studios, which closed in 2009, were flattened along with Hewden Plant Hire’s premises after the council received a £1.8m grant from the Northwest Regional Development Agency to buy the land for redevelopment.

But attempts to attract businesses onto the vacant 2.37-acre plot have drawn a blank.

Under the terms of the grant, the council was supposed to redevelop it by June last year.

Its failure to meet the target date means it could be told to repay the £1.8m.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency no longer exists. Its assets have passed to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which has agreed the council should be given more time.

The HCA has offered a top-up grant of £265,000 – £250,000 of which must be repaid by March 2015 – for improvements to make the vacant site more attractive to inward investors.

The council’s ruling executive is expected to accept the offer when it meets on Wednesday.

A report from economic development director Jane Meek says: “The additional funding would allow for environmental improvements that would enhance the appearance of the estate and improve the likelihood of disposal creating new employment opportunities.

“Accepting the offer will also remove the immediate risk of default and allow time for further proposals to be developed for additional investment.”

But she warns there is a “significant risk” the council will have to repay the £250,000, plus the £1.8m already received, from its own funds in 2015 if attempts to attract occupiers come to nothing.

The improvements include new signage, landscaping and fencing on Brunel Way, redesigned entrances, better footpaths, further site investigations, a marketing plan and proposals for a second access from Eastern Way.

Mrs Meek’s report adds: “Completing the proposals to create a secondary road access would allow us to be in a prime position to access future funding opportunities that might arise.”

Have your say

What did Renaissance achieve? A big fat ZERO. Who was responsible? They have mostly fled the scene ........ Looks like an opportunity to recoup some of the money if the site is sold on for leisure or housing but why not move the City and County council offices there and sell off the much more valuable assets they own in the city centre? They would be able to create ample parking for employees and visitors and the service infrastructure of shops etc would soon follow. Too sensible by half for our councillors me thinks.

Posted by P Doff on 16 January 2014 at 17:27

No good for business that area, Kingmoor park is the place for business should be the "Leisure Zone" as someone else said put a swimming pool there, indoor carting, crazy golf around a central hub of restaurants we lost Burger King maybe a new drive through up here or a KFC.

If this cant be achieved we have the police and Fire services there maybe a 24 hour drop in medical center to take the strain off those going to A&E instead of their doctors.

Posted by Harraby Lad on 16 January 2014 at 02:59

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