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Cambridge City Council

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Market Square redevelopment

We are exploring how the design, appearance and daytime, evening and night-time use of Market Square can be enhanced, while being sensitive to the site’s obvious heritage value and retaining its market function. 

The multi-stage project was temporarily put on hold between March and September 2020. This was partly because of the coronavirus lockdown, but also while we completed a comprehensive spending review.

The review concluded that the project should proceed as planned, because the market square is important to the city’s post-coronavirus economic recovery.

We are not inviting comments on any aspect of the project at this stage. We’ll advertise opportunities to provide feedback as part of the planned public consultation over the spring of 2021.

We are yet to identify and secure any of the multi-million pound investment that is likely to be required to deliver any resulting scheme.

Stage 1: Feasibility assessment

The first stage of the project was to produce a feasibility assessment. We completed this in July 2019, with the support of international architecture, engineering and urban-design consultants.

The report identifies how the Market Square space currently operates, and considers the associated issues, constraints and opportunities. It makes recommendations, which are being used to inform the next stage of the project.

Stage 2: Concept design

We started work on the concept design stage of the project in the summer of 2020.

The key objectives for this stage are as follows:

  • To develop a proposed vision for Market Square, in terms of its physical appearance, use and management, covering both day and night-time periods.
  • To develop a core concept design for the square, with options for different elements, covering both day and night-time periods.
  • To incorporate a continued daytime general and Sunday market, but with an improved design that enhances both the market offer and overall visitor experience of the space.
  • To maximise the ability to use the space for other activities at times when not being used by the general or Sunday market.
  • To enhance the quality of the public realm offer and associated furniture provision, including waste management and seating.
  • To ensure the underground structures associated with the square, including drainage pipes and culverts (structures that allow water to flow below roads) are physically sound and able to function effectively.
  • To conserve and enhance the heritage value of the space.

A team of experienced design and market specialist consultants have delivered this phase of the project. They worked to the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Concept Design template during the autumn and winter of 2020.

The team have developed a proposed vision and concept design for the market square. They will also help us secure the investment we need to complete the remaining stages of the project.

Councillors will be asked to approve the concept design and investment plan in March 2021.

Mace Group, an international consultancy and construction company, is leading the team. LDA Design, an independent design and planning consultant, and Quarterbridge, an independent retail market development consultant, are supporting them.  

Stakeholder engagement and public consultation

The feasibility assessment we completed in 2019 will inform the concept design.

We held a series of engagement events with a range of stakeholders in early 2020, to set the vision and help shape the concept design. The consultancy team will also consider the reports from these workshops.

We held further stakeholder engagement activities in autumn and winter 2020 to help inform the emerging proposed Vision and Concept Design. Feedback from these meetings along with questions asked and answers given by the Council are available to view here:

The proposed concept design was approved at committee in March 2021. It will now go out to public consultation from mid-May 2021. We will not be seeking the views of the public before this stage.

We’ll report the results of the consultation, together with any proposed changes to the design, to committee in October 2021, to ask for approval to progress to the next stage.

Stage 3: Detailed design

Subject to securing concept design approval in October 2021, work on the detailed design will start in the autumn of 2021.

The assessment of any detailed design proposals and resulting planning application for Market Square will consider the impact the proposals 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.

We will not make any decision on surfacing treatments until the project has reached the detailed design stage.

Stages 4 and 5: Planning and implementation

There is currently no timetable for any work past the detailed design stage in the autumn of 2021.

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.