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Cambridge City Council

Cambridge market square proposals - have your say!

News release from 19 May 2021

CAMBRIDGE City Council is asking the public for its views on a proposed multi-million pound project to renovate and improve the city’s market square, in an open public consultation which runs from now until 7 July. 

The overall vision is to transform the market square into a high quality, multi-functional civic space, which is inclusive and supports a diverse range of day, evening and night-time community uses, in and around the space’s continuing day-time use as a venue for the city’s hugely popular and successful daily outdoor market.    

The council’s proposed vision and concept design for the square includes a number of key design proposals which local residents will now have the opportunity to comment on during the six-week formal public consultation. A separate consultation process is being organised with market traders over the summer period to trial new demountable, yet robust, stall designs, which are a key component to the proposed vision. 

The key design proposals include: 

  • New, single unified surface treatment across the entire square, which will be to modern accessibility standards, and include the restoration of the listed granite setts 
  • New market layout, based on the re-alignment of stalls from a north-south to an east-west orientation, thereby improving permeability of the market for shoppers and creating increased space for public seating, tables and chairs;  and street entertainment    
  • New demountable, yet durable, market stalls, which meet the needs of traders, while being easy to take down/ put up 
  • Additional public seating, benches and eating tables  
  • New underground waste management system and improved toilets and storage for traders 

The proposed vision and concept design have been developed with the support of civil engineer, urban design and retail market management consultants; and with the input of a range of organisational stakeholders, including market traders and representatives from business, community and heritage interests, who expressed a range of views.  

In 2019, a council commissioned assessment of the market square showed that the space currently suffers from a range of design and management issues, which prevent it from achieving its full potential. These key issues include: 

  • Fixed market infrastructure which prevent the space from being able to fulfil other uses when the market is not in operation 
  • Insufficient levels of public seating 
  • Uneven surfacing, including raised kerbs, which make it difficult for visitors to access, especially if using a wheelchair or pushchair; and to be easily cleaned and maintained 
  • Poor quality and tired looking street furniture, which is unsightly and causes street clutter 
  • Anti-social behaviour, especially at night, with lots of dark ‘hidden’ spaces within the fixed market stalls 

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, said: “These proposals for our market square could see the heart of the city transformed into a more vibrant and popular community asset for visitors and residents alike. 

“The flexible design concepts and improved facilities, we are proposing, will help to boost the vitality and success of the market square and wider city economy, by renovating and animating the space; and attracting increased footfall by day and night, thereby accelerating Cambridge’s recovery from the pandemic.” 

“We aim to have a market square and market which meets the needs of all Cambridge residents, making it a more pleasant and accessible place to trade, visit and shop; and ensuring it continues to be a vibrant and integral part of the city long into the future.” 

“The proposed concept design is just the broad-brush outline of the project and so we want to know what you think of the proposals, how well it meets your needs; and any suggestions you may have on how the square should be improved.” 

“The next stage will be to create the detailed design phase and we will be seeking your input again for that next phase.” 

To take part in the consultation visit:

The results of the consultation, together with any proposed changes to the proposed Vision and Concept Design, are due to be reported to the Council’s Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee in October 2021.  

Subject to the outcome of the consultation, a recommendation will be made for committee approval to progress to the detailed design stage of the project and secure planning consent and funding for the associated works.  

If approved, work on the detailed design will start in the autumn of 2021 and the public will again be asked for their views on the final detailed design. The planning and implementation stages of the project will be undertaken following agreement of the detailed design and, subject to the required capital investment being secured, the aim is to complete the project Spring 2023.