27 May 2021/ Area guides

Office leasing guide: Carlisle

Offices to rent in Carlisle

Carlisle, or the Great Border City as it’s affectionately known, is a key hub for much of northern Cumbria and southern Scotland. It is the largest settlement in the county of Cumbria, and the last census programmes show that around 70,000 people live in the city and 100,000 residents live in the wider city. A handful of residents are students, as the main campus of the University of Cumbria is located in there. If you want to establish a business near the Lake District with plenty of footfall, Carlisle could be a good match.

With a 2,000-year history, Carlisle is an ancient place. It is home to part of UNESCO World Heritage Site Hadrian’s Wall, and the medieval Carlisle Castle still stands proud over the city. Its 12th-century cathedral is also a major attraction, bringing in over 150,000 visitors a year, while the castle draws around 50,000 visitors. Museums, galleries and heritage centres also prove popular with visitors.

Like many other cities across the northern parts of England, Carlisle was transformed into a mill town during the industrial revolution, and it later became a railway town. It continues to be a major hub in the north and is the administrative centre for both Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council. For business owners, the various attractions, along with all the footfall from retail and surrounding destinations, make it a bustling place to call home.

Interested in making Carlisle the base for your business? Here’s everything you need to know about day-to-day life in the city.  

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Notable business areas in Carlisle

There are two main business areas in Carlisle: one is near the rail station, and the other is the shopping area. If you are looking for office space, look just north of the rail station for well-connected city centre property. Compared to many UK cities, the property in the prime city centre location is a fraction of the cost. You’ll have the choice between period Victorian properties or a purpose-built workspace home to a number of other businesses. By basing yourself in the centre, you’ll have plenty of coffee shops, bars and restaurants, and attractions like Carlisle Castle, to keep all employees happy when off-duty.

If you want to open retail space – or to benefit from the footfall that retail locations bring – look further north to the Lanes Shopping Centre. This scheme was developed from the medieval alleyways, which have been transformed into a covered retail destination. The surrounding streets benefit from the shopping centre’s draw and are popular among independent boutiques and other stores.

It’s easy to get around Carlisle

Carlisle is a major rail hub

Carlisle sits on the West Coast Main Line and is a major connection. From here, you can get direct rail services to London, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. In fact, using the train is the quickest way to reach London as the route takes just three and a half hours, compared to a five-and-a-half-hour car journey.

You can also reach Edinburgh and Glasgow in just over an hour, Manchester in two hours, and Newcastle in around an hour and a half.

Carlisle is well connected to Cumbria via bus services

As much of the surrounding areas are rural, such as the Lake District and Northumberland, there are lots of buses routes to bring nearby residents to the city. You’ll find buses across Cumbria, stretching all the way to Lancaster and in key destinations such as Barrow-in-Furness, Keswick, Whitehaven, Morecambe, Ambleside, Penrith and Annan over the Scottish border.

The M6 ends just north of Carlisle

Running all the way from Rugby to Gretna Green, just 10 miles north of Carlisle, this major road is an important way that residents travel from the city across the country. It passes close to Lancaster, Preston, Manchester, Liverpool, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham.

Newcastle is the closest airport to Carlisle

Just over an hour away by car from Carlisle, Newcastle Airport is a convenient place to fly from. You can reach destinations across the UK such as Belfast and London Heathrow, as well as locations in Europe like Paris, Amsterdam and Barcelona.

If you want to fly further afield, Glasgow Airport is just under two hours away and has flights across Europe and to Dubai, New York and Toronto.

There are plenty of handy amenities in Carlisle 

You can easily book rooms for business travellers at Carlisle hotels

For city-centre style, The Halston is an ideal base and a great recommendation for your clients. It has smart rooms in a period property setting, and it’s also just a stone’s throw from the rail station. The ibis and Carlisle Station Hotel both offer a convenient and comfortable place to stay with simple rooms and modern amenities, again, just across from the rail station.

If you’re keen to give clients a peaceful and more luxurious stay, Dalston Hall Hotel is a smart retreat in a 16th-century castle that ticks all the comfort boxes. It is just a 10-minute drive from the city centre.

There are lots of great restaurants, cafes and pubs in Carlisle

You can eat your way around the world in Carlisle. Get an authentic taste of Sicily at Omato’s, a family-run restaurant near Carlisle Cathedral, or make your way to Alexandros Greek Restaurant and Deli for a Mediterranean feast. If you need to grab a coffee for a meeting, McGrew’s Bistro housed in The Old Fire Station has plenty of seating and lovely baked goods.

For an after work drink, The Lane Bar, Penny Blue and Coco Mill all provide a chic setting with a well-stocked bar, and the latter two both have food to fuel the evening out. And when it’s time to take a client out to lunch or dinner, David’s offers a fine dining experience.

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You can book several spaces for meetings and conferences in Carlisle

The hotels across Carlisle have meeting rooms, providing serviced spaces in which to host meetings and conferences. The Halston and the Carlisle Station Hotel both have city centre spaces that you can hire. If you are hosting a large event, The Old Fire Station could work well. It has been used for exhibitions, conferences, meetings, charity events and celebrations in the past, making it well suited for the more special calendar entries.

You’ll find lots of facilities across Carlisle

Keeping the workforce happy is easy when you have lots of practical amenities nearby, and Carlisle has plenty. There are a handful of gyms and businesses offering fitness programmes, such as The Gym, Snap Fitness, and The Studio. A large leisure centre houses three pools in the city centre for those who prefer to do lengths, and there is a gym on-site too. And for those who like a stretch after work, The Yoga Studio delivers a number of yoga classes in a stylish space.

Your team can easily grab the essentials they need, too. The Lanes Shopping Centre is located in the centre and has over 60 stores, including Next, Superdrug, River Island, Holland & Barrett, Timpson, Poundland and Vision Express.

A Vue cinema located centrally will keep film buffs entertained with the latest releases.

Notable office tenants in Carlisle

  • Innovia Group
  • Lloyd Motors
  • BEC
  • Cumbria Building Society
  • Edinburgh Woollen Mill
  • Cavaghan & Gray

Key agents

  • Carigiet Cowen
  • Walston Goodland Ltd
  • Edwin Thompson
  • Avison Young
  • John Taylor & Co
  • Kingmoor Park Properties Ltd

Offices, serviced offices and co-working spaces in Carlisle 

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Interesting facts about Carlisle

Carlisle Castle was built in 1092 and once acted as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots.

The city of Carlisle was originally named Luguvalium by the Romans. It was later taken over by the Picts, then the Vikings, then the Scots and then the Normans.

In 2012, Carlisle was voted the happiest city in the UK. Surrounded by nature and with a strong community feel, it’s easy to see why.

Poems from the 15th century suggest that King Arthur lived in Carlisle rather than Camelot. This theory is backed by historians.

The Long Meg & Her Daughters Stone Circle near Carlisle is the second largest stone circle in Europe. According to legend, a witch and her two daughters were dancing wildly there on the sabbath, so they were turned to stone.