A buyer for the imposing Grade II listed Victorian townhouses in the heart of the city centre has now been confirmed as Burge Halston Ltd, the developer behind the regeneration of Warwick Road and the award winning Halston Hotel. Burge Halston Ltd is headed by Robin Graham and Simon Harrison.
The former county council offices on Portland Square, Brunswick Street and Alfred Street North have been vacant since the council moved into the new purpose built office on Botchergate. The move and subsequent closure of Portland Square was part of a project which has seen the council reduce the number of office buildings in the city from 22 down to just two, generating around a £1m per year saving in running costs for the authority.
The terraces around Portland Square were built in the late 1860s and early 1880s and a number of the properties retain many of their Victorian period features and are one of Carlisle’s finest collections of period buildings.
Leader of Cumbria County Council, Cllr Stewart Young said: “I was pleased to hear that Simon and Robin bid for the properties and are now the successful new owners, especially having seen the positive impact the Halston complex has had on regenerating Warwick Road.
“We wanted to make sure that we secured the right developer for this significant heritage asset and as such the council carried out substantial market engagement with the private sector which helped inform the approach taken with regard to the sale.
“I’ve no doubt that the Halston team will transform the Square into something the whole city can be proud of.”
Simon Harrison added: “Robin and I were thrilled when we found out that we had won the tender to buy this beautiful and incredible collection of buildings in the heart of Carlisle. We really want to build on what we have achieved at the Halston and all along Warwick road. Where else in the country could you find two entire streets of beautiful buildings set around a green park – the square is like you would find in Edinburgh or London.
“We are under no illusions that it is a huge task ahead, but we will work with the City and the County Council along with other stakeholders to deliver what we are determined will be a landmark development.”
The gardens in the centre of the Portland Square are owned by Carlisle City Council who are keen to see them enhanced as part of the regeneration and investment in the Square so that they can benefit the very many number of residents, students and workers in the nearby area.