L-R: Carlisle City Council leader John Mallinson, University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell, Cumbria County Council Stewart Young, pictured outside the Citadels, Carlisle September 2021.
Photo: Becker Photo, Carlisle

Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal awards £50 million to develop a new University of Cumbria campus

The Borderlands Partnership Board has agreed to invest £50 million to enable the development of a new city centre campus for the University of Cumbria with the regeneration of the historic Citadels site in the heart of Carlisle.

The funding is being provided by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, in order to boost the vibrancy and vitality of Carlisle city centre and to improve skills and productivity in the local economy.

The new campus project has been developed in partnership by Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council, and the University of Cumbria, working with Cumbria LEP as a key partner. It will revitalise the historic Citadels and adjacent site and be transformative to the character and status of Carlisle and the wider Borderlands area. The award of the funding is a significant milestone and allows the University to take the next steps towards delivery of the ambitious plans for the Citadels.

University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Mennell is delighted with the news and said:

“We were established to play a central role in increasing higher education participation and addressing the higher-level education and skills needs of Cumbria and the wider region. This continues to be one of our primary strategic aims and has never been so important.

“Today’s funding announcement confirms that we can now take the next steps for a new university campus in the heart of our city and the Borderlands region. Alongside expanded taught and research provision, this initiative will increase the accessibility, reach and impact of our offer and bring more activity, footfall and investment into our city.

“I am sure the Citadels project will be truly transformational for place and people. I look forward to working partners and colleagues to deliver it. In, for and from our region.”

Councillor Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council said:

“I’m delighted that the Borderlands Partnership board have agreed to invest £50m through the Deal. This is an exciting transformational project which will help to raise the profile of Carlisle as a University City so we can develop opportunities, skills and infrastructure to drive regional growth and also attract businesses and younger people to Cumbria.”

Councillor John Mallinson, Leader of Carlisle City Council, added:

“The overall vision of this ambitious project is to bring the iconic Citadel buildings back into use, respecting the heritage whilst creating a modern and vibrant new hub for learning, business and culture that re-shapes the future of Carlisle and the Borderlands region for the benefit of its communities and future generations. We need to encourage investment in the city and this scheme is an important step forward. It will boost our economy and will bring the historic Citadel buildings back into use.  The funding announcement is another important milestone for the scheme.”

Steve Cole, Chair of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP)’s Investment Panel, said:

“Cumbria LEP is delighted to have helped facilitate this project by investing a £1.782m contribution from the Local Growth Fund. This support allowed the vital initial acquisitions and demolitions works to take place. The Citadels is an incredibly important development for Cumbria. As a major gateway to the City of Carlisle and a key part of its identity and culture, we are looking forward to seeing plans progress and the positive impact this regeneration will have on the county.”

Neil O'Brien MP, Minister for Levelling Up at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said:

“The £50 million investment from the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal is a transformational moment for the city of Carlisle. I’m delighted that this funding will deliver a new university campus at this historic site, breathing new life into the city centre. The project will help fuel the regeneration of the area, supporting local jobs and powering the economy as we build back better from the pandemic.”

John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle added:

“The Citadels are a key gateway to our city and a much-loved part of Carlisle's history and identity. I very much welcome the news that the Government has confirmed an allocation of £50m towards this redevelopment project and that of the surrounding area, via the Borderlands Growth Deal. This will facilitate a regeneration of the area with business and education at the very heart of the proposals.’’

The development of the new university campus is a key component in the shared Vision for Carlisle in 2030 ‘to develop a thriving centre for business, residents, education and culture’. It will also place Carlisle firmly on the map as a university city at the heart of the Borderlands Region.

Based on the site of the historic Citadels buildings, the new campus will provide publicly accessible spaces that combine local amenities, cultural and commercial uses, as well as addressing inequalities by creating highly accessible opportunities for higher education and training.

The plans being drawn up will include retention and re-use of the Grade I Listed Citadels buildings, which are of regional and national importance. Public consultation on the plans will take place later in the year.

The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will bring a transformative step change for the businesses and communities of the Borderlands by increasing productivity, growing the working age population, and delivering a more inclusive economy. The projects of the Deal aim to deliver up to 5,500 jobs and £1.1billion of additional GVA with a sustainable and inclusive approach to growth.