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Thursday, 02 October 2014

City can’t afford to say no to growth

AND so we’re off! Not yet running perhaps but the acquisition of properties to enable Carlisle’s long awaited Renaissance, can now at least move Rickergate regeneration from the starting blocks.

The city council has acquired Adriano’s restaurant for £775,000 and a house in Warwick Street for £125,000, as its local plan for redevelopment – so long a controversial proposal – begins in earnest.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency has funded both purchases in a move signalling unequivocal confidence in the future of Carlisle. And there, of course, lies the real significance of this forward stride.

The sums of money involved are close to being neither here nor there. It is the value of the purchases that counts – the value to a city which has for too long been persuaded by nervousness to blinker its vision of decades ahead.

City council leader Mike Mitchelson describes the latest development in the Carlisle Renaissance story as a positive sign, a statement of intent. That statement should be received now as would the sound of a starting pistol – with optimism for the journey.

Time for the whole city to show an open hand of unambiguous intentions was close to overdue some time ago. Carlisle simply can’t afford to hang back from necessary growth for a moment longer without risking sneering accusations of dithering over offered opportunity, of clinging to the past, of surrendering the aspirations of future generations to damaging indecision.

How many other Rickergate properties will need to be acquired will not be known until the blueprint for the area is finalised, a developer selected and planning applications tabled in 2010. Council agreements are already in place with owners of public sector buildings in Rickergate to take control of them if required.

But for now the relatively small step of two purchases can and should be accepted as a significant stride toward reaching for the new possibility and full potential that has always been Carlisle’s elusive due.

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