The scenic county of Cumbria is set to receive a massive 10,000 new homes following a development push by Carlisle City Council.

“I used to hear developers get nosebleeds if they go further north than Preston” quipped Jane Meek, Corporate Director for Economic Development at Carlisle City Council whilst speaking at our recent North West Development Conference.

The Council was keen buck that trend however, as Meek explained: “We made a conscious decision to engage with developers and we successfully doubled the number of developers working in the area.”

Carlisle is also receiving a major boon from the new Carlisle Lake District Airport, which Meek described has having “really put us on the map.”

This has been accompanied with a high street regeneration, enabled by the town’s successful bid to both the High Street and Stronger Towns Funds.

Further funding has also come from a major devolution deal – the £350m Borderlands Growth Deal. This cross-border funding allocation for Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders has successfully helped unlock new developments across the regions.

Industrial development is also accompanying this, with the Kingmoor Industrial estate having gained Enterprise Zone status in 2016, making it the only Enterprise Zone in the county. Meek described the unique opportunity of the development: “Kingmoor offers sites for development, particularly for logistics, advanced manufacturing and the nuclear supply chain.”

Liverpool’s iconic art deco Littlewoods building, once a major betting hub, is being restored to its former glory by developer Capital & Centric.

Surviving 17 years of disuse and a fire in 2018, the building is being repurposed as a film and television studio for Twickenham Studios, providing two sound stages and an industry hub.

Co-Founder of Capital & Centric, Adam Higgins described the unique advantage of the location: “It is very unusual to get a film studio location only a mile away from the city and only a mile from the motorway. It’s almost unheard of.”

Liverpool is currently the most filmed city in the UK outside of London, due in part to its unique heritage. Yet the £30m development has the potential to change the industry’s relationship with the city. Higgins explained the development could “increase the average filming in the city from 7 days to 9 months.”

Another area seeking the reinvigorate its past heights is the seaside resort town Blackpool. Nick Gerrard, Growth and Prosperity Programme Director for Blackpool Council said: “We talk about a £1bn growth and prosperity programme, but that’s actually an understatement.”

A key part of this is what Gerrard specified as a “£300m leisure development, including some of the most innovative leisure offers such as the UK’s first flying theatre.”

In addition to improving the town’s leisure offering, improvements to the hotel offering are a key part of plans for the town. They’re focusing on higher end 3, 4 and 5-star hotels. Gerrard noted that this development has meant that the town is now “close to getting to the position where we are getting the major conferences again.”

Seeking to break the economic trap caused by the dependence on seasonal employment Blackpool has also been looking to the future, with a 144-ha Enterprise Zone near Blackpool Airport which is in the design process.

Along with a £28m upfront investment from the council, the zone is also going to be boosted by transatlantic new cable that will give the enterprise zone faster access to stateside markets than London.

Another major enterprise zone in the North West is that of Airport City Manchester, which £282m worth of real estate has gone into within the past 4 years, according to Anthony Nash, Director of Stoford Developments, one of the firms working on Airport City.

Stoford Developments, a major logistics and office developer, have been speculatively developing two major sites in the Liverpool City Region,  Liberty Park Widnes and Liverpool 57.

Liverpool 57 is a proposed industrial site at Stonebridge Cross, which Nash described as “a joint venture with the council which has been ready for development for a number of years.”

The site is still looking for an occupier and has the potential for 1,100,000 sq ft of industrial space and £80 million of investment.

The £39m Liberty Park Widnes project is a 480,000 sq ft ready to build site, 5 miles from Liverpool City Airport / John Lennon Airport.

The firm is also onsite on two other projects in the North West. Nash explained that their scheme in Ambleside, Cumbria, is a particularly unique development: “We are developing very differently in the Lake District. We’re building a beautiful scheme, a 112-bed hotel with 40 homes. But schemes in that part of the world can be challenging in terms of planning permission, building on an area of natural beauty, and the scheme is on a flood plain.”

Stoford are also onsite at a 200,000 sq ft former Carlsberg depot, at Golbourne. Nash updated delegates on the progress: “Golbourne site has already been taken, and we’ve pre-sold the majority of it and we’re just finishing the last building there.”

The face of the North-West is changing and the region is looking at the glories of the past, and the promises of the future for its emerging places.