'EXCITING' plans are set to take Carlisle to the next level, including making the most of the city's high street and its historic assets.

City councillors discussed an ambitious plan on Thursday to make the most of Carlisle's potential, adapting to the challenges of Covid-19 and addressing an underperforming visitor economy.

Head of Regeneration Steven Robinson presented a City Centre Strategy to councillors explaining the impact of the current economic climate on Carlisle and plans to adapt to it.

He said: "City centres are moving from being retail dominated towards more of a multi-functional centre where you've got retail that's complemented by leisure, culture, employment use and residential, so you get that mix in the city centre."

Mr Robinson said that Carlisle should move towards this mix of "mutually beneficial" city centre offerings, repurposing parts of the high street.

A pipeline of projects have been developed to bring this new style of city centre experience to Carlisle.

Mr Robinson said that this would reduce reliance on high street retail which is struggling as Covid-19 accelerates the move to online shopping.

The council's City Centre Action Plan addresses three themes: Harnessing changing working patterns to diversify and grow the city centre, creating a thriving centre for residents and visitors and ensuring a supporting and innovative public sector.

Plans tie in with the new University of Cumbria campus planned for The Citadel buildings, as well as funding from the Future High Streets Fund and the Town's Fund.

Jane Meek, director of economic development said: "It's worthwhile understanding how much money is coming into the city centre.

"We have about £130million of funding coming into the city centre when you think about the investment into the Citadels with the university project, the Station Gateway project and the Town Deal and Future High Streets Fund."

She said that while projects are often announced individually, they all meet the overarching agenda of taking Carlisle "to the next level."

Councillor Jo Ellis-Williams said: "I think it's really exciting as well I think you're right, Jane it's beginning to feel like we're at the beginning of it all changing and it's great to see the pots of money are there.

"To see these projects over the next four or five years coming to fruition is going to be transformational in terms of the city centre and what the city has to offer."

Mr Robinson said: "Through our Future High Street and Town Deal Fund programmes we've put in projects that are going to help move Carlisle's visitor economy and visitor offer forward.

"There's projects like the Carlisle Project which is around lighting up key buildings with dynamic lighting which can support events in the city centre."

One of the ambitious projects on the way utilising Town Deal Funding includes better connecting Tullie House Museum to the streetscape, making it more visible to potential visitors.

Speaking of the Uni of Cumbria project he said: "This project is really gaining momentum now. We're moving into the pre-planning stage now, final designs are starting to come through. The land transfers are starting to come through to enable the site to be assembled."

Deputy leader Gareth Ellis said: "The timings of these projects also are just at the right time if they'd happened five or 10 year ago we'd have spent £100 million on a series of schemes that wouldn't have been suitable for the future.

"We'd have to go through this process again so the timing we have here is incredible, I really do think that the best of the city is ahead of us, not behind us."