In 2019, the Council carried out a feasibility study which made several suggestions on how to improve the market. Louis Ashworth

Cambridge City Council have delayed consideration of proposals to redevelop the market into an “attractive, vibrant and accessible multi-functioning market and outdoor civic space” following their failure to publish a report by the market consultants Quarterbridge.

The report addresses how the redevelopment project could be financed and how it could improve the current management of the market. Councillors will now be asked to approve the concept design and investment plan on 25 March 2021.

A spokesperson for the Council told Varsity that the delay “will not adversely impact the project’s timeline of feasibility”.

The Fews Lane Consortium, a group that campaigns for sustainable development and democratic accountability, welcomed the postponement .

The proposed redevelopment seeks to resolve several issues identified by the Council. A report described the market as “not user-friendly, lacking sufficient public seating and gathering areas; and is difficult to access for pedestrians, especially those with physical impairments”. It additionally described the market as “a source of anti-social behaviour at night”.

“The public realm quality of the space is considered poor for such an important civic space, with visually detracting street clutter, including the market waste compactor and bailer facility, and poor surface treatment", the report continued.

The Council conducted a feasibility study in 2019 which made several suggestions, including simply repaving and decluttering the market, reorganising it to create a space for events to be held, or even installing landscape features or large infrastructure, such as a canopy, underground cycle parking or new water features.

A more recent concept design report proposed eliminating the existing stalls and replacing them with gazebo-style tents that could be removed to provide space for events. 

Several stallholders criticised the plans as “unworkable”. Julia Cox, who trades from the market five days a week from her stall Emerald Foods, told the Cambridge Independent: “I think I can speak on behalf of a few core traders, especially the ones here right now - we can’t run it from a flimsy, gazebo-type stall: it will be impossible.”

Glenys Self, who runs a jewellery stall and is the spokesperson for the Friends of Cambridge Market, questioned how traders would be able to share the space with events. Speaking to the Cambridge Independent, she said that “the market is being told to work around the events. It needs to be the other way around - the market should come first.”


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 A Council spokesperson told Varsity  that they had identified two possible stall designs “which will be tested for their structural integrity”. 

“As part of the design testing, we will also invite traders to trial the proposed stall design prototypes on the market to see how they perform in a ‘real world’ setting, including the efficiency and effectiveness of their demountable functionality.”

The dispute comes after the Council closed down the market on New Years’ Day. Facing significant public backlash, the market was partially reopened after “careful planning” .