Cumbria should get a bigger slice of the £394.5m Borderlands Growth Deal, a leading business figure has argued.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said Cumbria deserved more the huge funding pot provided by the UK and Scottish governments as home to half the 9,000sqm Borderlands region’s one million population

Dignitaries gathered on Monday to sign a ‘heads of terms’ agreement for the much-anticipated growth deal, which aims to boost infrastructure, skills and tourism in the region either side of the England-Scotland border.

Of the £394.5m war chest, up to £265m is coming from the UK Government, £85m from the Scottish Government and a further £44.5m from the partners behind the Borderlands Partnership, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and the Scottish Borders Council.

Flagship Cumbrian-based projects include up to £15m to improve Carlisle railway station to enhance connections across the region, and up to £10m to assess the feasibility of extending the Borders Railway from Tweedbank to Carlisle.

Outside the county, other projects include up to £16.2m to improve digital connectivity in the south of Scotland and up to £7.8m to develop a new business and employment site at the former nuclear power station site at Chapelcross. A potential £19m could be invested in a “world-class” mountain bike innovation centre in the Scottish borders and up to £5m for the development of the Lilidorei play village at the Alnwick Gardens visitor attraction in Northumberland.

And while several projects are set to take place across the whole region – such as £31m for energy projects to support green growth, £4m to support research and innovation in the dairy industry and money for the roll out full-fibre broadband and improved mobile phone coverage – Mr Johnston has argued that Cumbria does not appear, for the time-being at least, to be getting enough.

“We welcome the deal in principle, but we’d have liked to see Cumbria get a bigger slice of the cake,” he said.

“Half the population of the Borderlands region live in Cumbria yet we’re not getting anywhere near half the money. Carlisle Station Gateway is the only major infrastructure project in the county to receive funding.”

Mr Johnston did welcome the deal, however.

“The Borderlands concept recognises that communities either side of the border face similar challenges,” he said.

“We’re all grappling with an ageing population, lack of skills in the workforce and inadequate transport links, for example.

“We hope the projects announced this week will be just the start and, now the door is open, more funding will flow.

“Some of the work done by the local authorities behind Borderlands identified other projects, such as improvements to the A595 between Carlisle and Sellafield and dualling the A69 between Carlisle and Hexham, which could be progressed.”

But he added: “It has to be said that there’s little in the Borderlands Growth Deal for south Cumbria, which is why the Chamber is also supportive of proposals for a Morecambe Bay Growth Deal for Barrow, South Lakeland and Lancaster.”

The Borderlands Growth Deal is set to deliver 5,500 jobs across the region, attract an additional four million extra tourists to the area, and generate £1.1billion for the economy, its backers have said.

All identified projects are subject to business case approval, and the signing of the full growth deal agreement is expected to take place next year.

Both Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council (CCC) declined to directly comment on Mr Johnston’s claims, but have stressed the significant impact it will bring to both Carlisle and the county as a whole.

Leader of the city council, Councillor John Mallinson said the deal will provide “transformational change for Carlisle” while his counterpart at CCC, Cllr Stewart Young said he was looking forward to the impact of projects “that could benefit the whole of Cumbria”.

The signing of the heads of terms has been welcomed by Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

“The Borderlands Growth Deal is an important step forward for the Northern Powerhouse, showing how we can unlock the potential of the Carlisle economy right across to Northumberland and into Scotland.

“The linking of transport to housing, including the new (St Cuthbert’s) Garden Village, through to key economic development opportunities, will drive productivity. We do need to go further though – which is why we need HS2 services between London and Glasgow to stop in Carlisle, also improving connectivity to West Cumbria.”

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is currently lobbying the Government for HS2 stops at Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme Lake District train stations, although Mr Murison has argued for efforts to be concentrated on securing a single stop at Carlisle.