One of Carlisle’s most iconic city centre retail buildings appears to be on the brink of a new lease of life.

A year after the closure of the troubled Castle Street department store that was leasing the building, an application has been lodged with Carlisle City Council seeking permission to open a cafe there.

The three-storey sandstone building, opposite Carlisle Cathedral and in the heart of city's historic quarter, was formerly the home of the family-owned Bulloughs department store, and later Hoopers.

It was last used when it was leased out and opened as Paris Department Store, which closed in September last year after months of negative publicity about staff who said they were owed thousands in wages.

The building has since been sold, although there is currently no public record as to new owner's identity.

It is, however, understood to be in the hands of a successful Cumbria-based businessman who hopes to restore the building's reputation to its former glory as a respected city centre retail outlet, creating secure long-term jobs.

Four businesses are already understood to have expressed an interest in renting space in the store though no final decisions have been made.

The first sign that the three storey building will have new life breathed into it came in a licensing application submitted to the City Council by Jovita Kubiliene.

It seeks permission to place chairs and tables on the wide sandstone area to the front of the building. Insiders say the application, which is not from the building's owner, is for a cafe.

A spokeswoman for Carlisle City Council said there have been no objections to the application.

Carlisle City Council Leader Colin Glover said there have already been conversations with council officials about the future use of the building.

He highlighted its potentially vital role in the city centre's life.

Colin Glover “There are a number of businesses prepared to invest and breathe new life into our city's historic quarter and the former Bullough's building is a key part of that,” said Mr Glover.

“It occupies an iconic site right in the heart of the historic quarter.

“It's really pleasing that somebody has chosen to buy the building and invest in it, and talk about the possibilities.

“It has a key role to play as this city builds its confidence.

“There are a number of possibilities – including retail and restaurant use but its a flexible building and it's good that the new owner is prepared to consider options. I've heard that they're considering both restaurant and retail.

“We're grateful that Hoopers left the building in a good state.

“We want to be supportive and help businesses to grow and thrive, providing a city that people want to live in and invest in.

“There are some very positive things going on just now.”

Hoopers opened in the city in 2006. Its decision to pull out of the 38,000sq ft building was blamed on poor trading conditions that left it with six figure losses.

It was then leased to Rebecca Menaged, who opened it as a Paris department store, but from its early days that business was mired in controversy, with staff saying they were not paid the money they were owed.

The store was wound up after failing to settle a £125,000 rates bill with Carlisle City Council.