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Council publishes market square feasibility study

News release from 09/10/2019

CAMBRIDGE City Council has published a feasibility study which identifies the key issues and opportunities facing the city’s market square.

It marks the start of a major, multi-phase project which aims to improve the design and function of the square, as a continued venue for the day-time market and a space for new evening and night-time events and activities.  

The market square, and its popular seven day a week market, is an important contributor to the social and economic vitality, diversity and health of the city.

However, the feasibility study shows that the square suffers from a range of design and management issues, which prevent it from achieving its full potential as the city’s main city centre public space. 

The square’s fixed market stalls prevent the space from being able to fulfil other uses when the market is not in operation. It lacks sufficient public seating and is difficult for people to access, with uneven surfacing and raised kerbs.  

The design quality of the square is poor, with unsightly and abundant street clutter, an over-wide, confusing road system and surfacing which is difficult to clean and maintain. At times of rainfall, the square’s drains back up and cause localised flooding.

The publication of the market square feasibility study marks the start of a multi-phase project to develop a detailed plan and associated investment strategy to address these issues and improve the design, use and function of the space for the benefit of the city. 

The next phase of the project will see the development of a proposed vision and concept design for the market square. This will be informed by the feasibility study findings and recommendations, and stakeholder views together with an outline investment strategy indicating how the associated improvements should be financed.  

Work on the next phase is due to start in the next month and conclude with a  proposed vision and concept design plan, which, subject to council committee approval, will be published for public consultation next summer (2020). 

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre said: “The market square is a much loved and much used destination for residents, workers and visitors to Cambridge.

“The council is committed to making sure that the square continues to offer a varied and successful seven day a week market whilst also creating a vibrant public space for the years to come; appealing to a wide range of people and really enhancing our city centre more than ever.

“We will be working very closely with everyone who has an interest in the market square during the next phases of this project, to help develop an agreed improvement plan and secure the required investment to ensure the space is able to realise its full potential and continue to play a significant role in Cambridge life in the years to come.”

The market square project will align with the ‘Making Space for People’ supplementary planning document (SPD), which is being developed by Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, funded by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP). 

The SPD will be used to prioritise the delivery of improvements to key public spaces and streets, and improve the walking and cycling network. A proposed Making Space for People ‘vision’ for central Cambridge, and the principles and strategies which underpin it, are currently out to consultation.

The market square feasibility study is available to view at: 

The consultation draft of the Making Space for People SPD is available to view at: