A comprehensive plans to regenerate a Cumbrian town is needed to ensure its sustainable future, according to councillors.

Penrith Town Council met on March 25, during which Cllr Dave Knaggs (Penrith East, Labour) proposed the body commits to working with Westmorland and Furnes Council, the unitary authority, to support the town’s development, involving infrastructure development and ‘town centre regeneration’.

Town councillors have unanimous support for the motion, with the needs echoed by Stephen Macaulay – president of Penrith Chamber of Trade and Commerce and Chris Ford – lecturer at Lancaster University and Cabinet Office Policy Fellow.

The former commented that without it, ‘we are setting ourselves on a course of continued failure and decline’.

Cllr Knaggs said there’s a ‘pressing need’ for strategic regeneration in Penrith to ensure its future amid ‘rapid growth and a slowly declining town centre’.

"Penrith is experiencing unprecedented expansion, yet we're at risk of reaching a crisis point due to inadequate infrastructure," he said.

“Without proper planning, essential services like healthcare and education may become inaccessible to residents.”

He also highlighted vacant premises and deterioration, pointing the finger at shifting retail habits and a rise of online banking.

“Our town centre is poised for continued decline unless we take swift action to create a regeneration plan to deal with vacant premises in the town centre,” he added.

At the last census, the town recorded 16,071 residents yet no significant residential expansion has yet occurred, nor the development of infrastructure.

Cllr Knaggs said it’s an ‘alarming’ fact being driven by ‘short-term funding considerations rather than a long-term strategic vision’.

However, he concluded that, now with an agreement for the duelling of the A66, and ‘a range of fabulous tourism assets in and around Penrith’, and the new unitary authority, the town is ‘ready to grow and evolve into something even better’, pending a ‘clear vision’ to make it happen.