THE CITY council recognises the importance of rural communities, so much so that it is collaborating with a neighbouring council to ensure they are not left behind.

Carlisle City Council members heard of ambitious plans for economic growth in the area on Thursday which include the redevelopment of the Citadels into a new University of Cumbria campus and the revitalisation of the city centre.

Councillors heard about the six key priorities of the council's recently adopted Economic Growth Strategy, designed to unlock the potential of Carlisle and the district.

The key priorities include: Driving housing and population growth, levelling-up the skills base and productivity, increasing city vibrancy, enhancing digital and transport connectivity, supporting rural development/innovation and promoting Carlisle as a place to live/work.

Councillors heard that 30 per cent of the population of Carlisle area classed as rural.

And deputy mayor Mike Mitchelson expressed the importance of including this community in Carlisle's exciting future.

Director of Economic Development Jane Meek said: "I'm very please to be able to tell you that we are going to develop a rural strategy and we're actually working with Eden District Council to do that.

"This work started probably about 12 months, in terms of doing some joint working in how we support our rural economy.

"Addressing the rural economy is very challenging because you don't get the outputs that you do in a city economy. This is a piece of work that we're going to be doing over the next six months or so."

Head of Regeneration Steven Robinson and his team have planned out the piece of work.

Ms Meek said: "And the first stage will be a workshop which members will be invited to come along and actually scope out what a rural strategy needs to look out."

She said that developments in the city centre have a beneficial effect for communities elsewhere in the district, even the Borderlands initiative to transform Carlisle's train station and Citadel buildings.

Advancements in high-speed broadband coverage and transport connectivity will benefit the rural community in trading their produce.

Ms Meek said: "In terms of these priorities, they're all spread out but they're all interlinked. I talk to farmers over in Newcastle who actually really require digital connectivity to promote themselves as a tourism place but also to farm in an innovative way."