CAMBRIDGE City Council, working with its partners, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Greater Cambridge Partnership, has recently commissioned international architecture, engineering and urban design firm, BDP, to review the management and use of the Market Square, as one of the city’s most important public open spaces.
BDP have been asked to review how the Market Square currently functions, both during the day, as a popular and vibrant seven day per week market space; and at night; and how the day and night-time offers could be improved to better support the needs of Cambridge as a global city, as it develops and grows.
Their brief is based on the principle that the existing daytime market function is to be accommodated in any emerging new plan for the site, but with the need to consider how to enhance the value of the space for the wider community.
This includes the provision of additional outdoor seating, potential new underground waste and cycle parking facilities and flexible performance space for both large and small scale evening events, including film shows and concerts.
BDP have agreed to complete the feasibility assessment stage of their commission for initial consideration by the council’s executive councillor this spring and then to proceed with developing a proposed concept design, for consideration by the council’s scrutiny committee and executive councillor.
Cambridge residents and visitors will then have the opportunity to comment on the proposed concept design over a two month formal public consultation period during the summer and early autumn period.
The outcome of the public consultation and any resulting revision to the concept design and proposed next steps will be considered by the scrutiny committee in the autumn.
To help inform the consultant’s current feasibility work, a series of technical stakeholder workshop sessions were held on 15 January across a range of themes including transport, heritage and urban design.
Organisations attending these workshops included the Market Traders Association, Cambridge BID and County Highways. The workshops on the 15 January marked the start of an ongoing organisational stakeholder engagement process, which will continue over the next five months, culminating in the aforementioned public consultation event in the summer.
Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Environmental Services and City Centre, said: “The Market Square is a really important place at the heart of our city and we want to make sure that it is as good as it can be for residents, traders, visitors and others.
“It is all about balancing the needs of different people making best use of this high profile public opens space. The study being carried out now is the start of a process that will test the feasibility of what can be done to improve the Market Square and how that might be financed.
“There will be full public consultation on all proposals and councillors will also scrutinise any ideas that are put forward.”
Subject to a positive feasibility assessment and publicly supported concept design, the council will consider whether or not to fund a detailed design stage in 2020/21.
An agreed design would be used as the basis for a planning application which could potentially be put forward in 2021/22. Implementing an approved scheme for the Market Square will be dependent on the council and its project partners being able to find the necessary funding.