The pace is gathering on two new bids from Carlisle City Council for Government funding that could land the city up to £50m.

The council is well on the way with putting together proposals for the Future High Street Fund and the Towns Fund, which it will deliver to Westminster later this year.

Should the proposals be judged worthy by Government, Carlisle could be in line to net up to £50m in funding for projects to regenerate less lively parts of the city, improve accessibility to the city centre and even to build on disused land.

As with many central Government deals designed to support regional development, it is up to the council to put together a plan outlining how money from Westminster would be used - both of which are due to land on Whitehall desks in the summer.

The council’s plans will be weighed up on its own merits, and against bids from councils elsewhere in the country.

The prize for a persuasive case for Carlisle is significant - each fund could be worth up to £25m each for the city.

A board made up of local business bosses, schools and hospitals representatives, the city’s MP John Stevenson and others has been put together to work out how best to approach the Towns Fund bid, and will meet for the first time on Monday.

The city council’s corporate director of economic development, Jane Meek, said steaming ahead with the funding was “very exciting”.

“We’ve worked hard for a number of years to get to this point,” she said.

“I think these projects will really reinforce Carlisle’s role as the regional capital, and the role that we play as the centre of a region in which half a million people live. This could be really important for our city and our economy.”

Ms Meek added that the Government appeared keen to get investment from these funds flowing as “quickly as possible”, meaning action in Carlisle as a result of these funds could be seen “sooner rather than later”, should their bids be successful.

The council’s economy, enterprise and housing portfolio holder, councillor Paul Nedved, stressed that bidding for these deals wasn’t a sign that Carlisle’s city centre was ailing - instead it was an opportunity to help the city calibrate itself for the future.

“When you look across the north west and England as a whole, Carlisle is in many ways bucking the trend,” he explained.

“We have a lower-than-average number of vacant shops in the city centre and continue to attract strong numbers to our high streets.

“There are places of a similar size in the north, like Birkenhead or Stockton-on-Tees, that have really suffered in recent years, losing a lot of big-name brands from their town centres.

“This is about helping the city centre to diversify, offering more leisure and culture attractions as well as traditional retail.

“The twin forces of out-of-town retail and the internet has changed the retail landscape massively, but people still want a vibrant city centre to meet, eat, drink and be entertained - as well as to shop.”