The Whitehaven community has been left in "deep shock" after a huge cannabis farm was discovered in the heart of the town centre.

Brian O' Kane, chairman of Whitehaven Town Council, said he could not believe the news that the farm was found in a building on Lowther Street.

He said: "I think everybody is in genuine deep shock.

"Knowing the extensive nature of that building internally and the location, you just can't believe it.

"Especially for something like that to be happening in a town like Whitehaven.

"Personally I've been self-isolating for the last nine or 10 weeks, but people will have passed that building numerous times, it is really central.

"It just makes you realise that the drug situation in the area must be more serious than a lot of us thought."

The cannabis factory, which officers described as a "£1million facility", was raided in the early hours of Sunday.

It is estimated there were about 1,300 cannabis plants at the property.

Albanian nationals Xhona Leka, 28, and Gjergi Braculla, 39, appeared at the magistrates' court in Carlisle on Monday, jointly facing two charges.

One alleges the possession of cannabis with intent to supply, while a second charge alleges production of the class B drug.

Leka, of The Dene, Wembley, North London, appeared first at the court.

Braculla, of Archdale Place, New Malden, Kingston upon Thames - appeared in court, separately, about an hour later.

He pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Magistrates committed the case to Carlisle Crown Court, where a plea and trial preparation hearing for the two men is due to take place in front of a judge on June 26.

Leka and Braculla were both remanded in custody.

Two men from Manchester, aged 27 and 30, were also arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis and have been released on police bail.

Councillor O' Kane said: "I'm shocked and surprised that something so worrying could be happening in our town."

Police are continuing to appeal for anyone with any information to contact them on 101, email, or to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.