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Market Square redevelopment

We have commissioned a review of the management and usage of Market Square in the city centre. We want to investigate how the space could be put to better use during the day and at night, and made more inclusive for all users.

We believe the site’s value can be enhanced while accommodating the popular daytime market and being sensitive to the area’s heritage. A re-evaluation of Market Square could lead to it meeting its full potential as a key civic space and the heart of the city centre.

International architecture, engineering and urban design firm BDP are carrying out the review for us.

Feasibility assessment

BDP will complete a feasibility assessment of Market Square in spring 2019, for initial consideration by the Executive Councillor for Environmental Services and City Centre.

The assessment will identify how the space currently operates, and the associated issues, constraints and opportunities. The brief includes the requirement to consider Market Square’s current lack of seating.

For example, some surfaces on Market Square are uneven and difficult for some people to comfortably navigate. Also, the drainage system is old, complex and unable to accommodate sudden, heavy rain, which can result in flooding.

Concept design

The feasibility assessment will take these and other factors into account to inform a concept design. This will suggest how the site could be improved, for consideration by us this summer.

This process will be informed by a review of relevant plans, strategies and other related data. It is also guided by a series of meetings with technical stakeholder that focused on the following topics:

  • The public realm, including surfaces, accessibility, potential for planting, the fountain, lighting, drainage, street furniture, history, and conservation
  • The general market, including facilities, operations, layout, maintenance, storage, waste management, parking, and relocation during redevelopment work
  • Personal security and antisocial behaviour
  • Tourism and events
  • Access and parking for vehicles and bikes, and pedestrian access
  • Challenges and opportunities

We will engage adjoining freehold property owners and businesses with this stage of the project. 

Stakeholder engagement and public consultation

We’ll hold a series of engagement events with stakeholders in the summer of 2019.

The concept design will then go out to public consultation in October, subject to approval from our Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee.

Detailed design

We’ll consider the results of the consultation and stakeholder engagement. The scrutiny committee will decide in January 2020 whether any changes are needed, and whether to proceed with the detailed design process.

We will not make any decision on surfacing treatments until the project has reached the detailed design stage. This includes whether or not to retain the existing stone setts, or ‘cobbles’. If we do this, any such proposals will form the basis of a public consultation process.

The assessment of any detailed design proposals and resulting planning application for the Market Square will consider the impact they might have on listed buildings. It will also consider their potential impact on the character and appearance of the Historic Core Conservation Area, which includes Market Square. The Historic Core Conservation Area Appraisal will inform any detailed design assessment.

Planning and implementation

There is currently no timetable for any work past the detailed design stage in January 2020.

The planning and implementation stages of the project will be planned following agreement of the concept design, subject to securing the required funding.

If the project proceeds to the planning stage, any submitted planning application will be subject to formal public consultation.


The redevelopment of Market Square is one part of a larger ‘city access’ project that the Greater Cambridge Partnership has commissioned. This project includes initiatives to improve public transport, reduce congestion, and improve air quality – the redevelopment of Market Square will need to align with these goals.

We are acting as sponsor and project manager on the Market Square redevelopment project, and are responsible for securing funding for it.

The Making Space for People Supplementary Planning Document, which we are currently producing, will set out a vision for the city centre. It will include a number of high-level strategies for change and some key design principles that public realm and movement projects will need to consider.

Decision making process 

The Executive Councillor for Environmental Services and City Centre will attend Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee meetings with the Market Square redevelopment on the agenda.

Following a committee discussion and any votes on recommendations from council officers, the executive councillor will make a final decision.

Archaeological dig on Market Hill 

A comprehensive marketplace scheme that required planning permission will trigger an archaeological appraisal, and possibly a planning condition requiring archaeological works.

A simpler stripping and relaying of the surface is unlikely to require an archaeological dig. If isolated excavations are required, a ‘watching brief’ by archaeologists to record material would be likely.

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