It looks like Cumbria has been let back into the Northern Powerhouse again with a Valentine’s Day gift from ministers. Along with cards from their sweethearts, councillors unwrapped £102 million pounds to build a new road south of Carlisle linking the M6 to the A595 near Dalston.
It turns out that the road is very handy for plans to build up to 10,000 homes on a swathe of land south of the city which has been dubbed St Cuthbert’s Garden Village
Beside the plans for new houses, some will just enjoy that they won’t have to travel through Carlisle, go all the way up to J44 or along the winding roads of the Northern Fells if they want to head to west to Workington or Whitehaven.
The government have confidence for us to deliver the infrastructure, deliver the homes, deliver employment opportunities and this, we hope, will lead on to a successful Borderlands inclusive growth deal announcement. It was very important early on that we were making the case for Cumbria, and for Carlisle, in the Northern Powerhouse.
That work could not just stop at Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds. There was a lot of north, north of Manchester, that we need to make sure were able to benefit.
“This is the biggest infrastructure investment in Carlisle in a generation. We’ve set out a commitment as a government to support Carlisle and Cumbria.
This is a huge down-payment of £100m on the overall plan, through Borderlands and the Northern Powerhouse, to create a growing economy. That’s one of the reasons that we’ve chosen Carlisle.”
We’re still waiting for news of what a Borderlands Growth Deal
would include for southern Scotland, Cumbria and Northumberland, after it wasn’t ready in time to be announced at the last budget.
It’s fair to assume it will include money to upgrade more people to high-speed internet, cross-border tourism initiatives, turning the A69 road into a dual carriageway and, possibly, cash to extend the Borders Railway all the way to Carlisle.
It could be a while before any of those grander ideas can become reality though, so it’s likely that the Carlisle Southern Link Road will be the first real chance to see the so-called Northern Powerhouse in action for Cumbria when it’s planned to be open by 2023.