The project’s key design proposals include new demountable market stalls, public seating and space for street entertainmentAndrew Dunn/WIKIMEDIACOMMONS

Cambridge City Council is asking the public for its views on a proposed multi-million pound project to improve Cambridge Market Square in an open public consultation running from 19th May until 7th July. The Council hopes to transform the square into a high-quality, multi-functional civic space which supports a range of day, evening and night-time community users.

The proposed project Vision and Concept Design was approved for public consultation at the Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee in March 2021.

The key design proposals of the project include single unified surface treatment across the entire square to meet modern accessibility standards, and a new market layout based on the re-alignment of stalls from a north-south to an east-west orientation. The Council hopes to facilitate shopping spaces and create more space for public seating, benches and tables for eating, street entertainment, outdoor theatre and film shows. Other proposals include a new underground waste management system, improved toilets and storage for traders and new demountable market stalls which meet traders’ needs.

A separate consultation process is also being organised with market traders over the summer period to trial new demountable stall designs.

A 2019 Council-commissioned assessment found that the current space suffers from various design and management issues, including fixed market infrastructure which prevents the use of the space for other purposes when the market is not in operation.

“Given the city’s global profile and the impact of COVID on the community, we feel the timing is right to bring forward the Market Square Project,” the proposal states. “This multi-million pound project will revitalise the Market Square, delivering an enhanced daytime market offer and a new evening and night-time offer.”

“The project aims to create a city centre civic space befitting Cambridge’s status as a global city and which helps to sustain the city’s continuing economic and social recovery”, it adds. “A refreshed market square will reposition the space as a vibrant destination in its own right and as a focal point for the community, not just for the wonderful daily local market, but also, as a venue, for popular evening and night time events and activities.”

The results of the consultation, as well as any proposed changes to the proposed Vision and Concept Design, will 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 stage of the project, and secure planning consent and funding.

If approved, work on the design will begin in autumn 2021, when the public will again be asked for their views on the final detailed design. If the required capital investment is secured, the aim is to complete the project by Spring 2023.


Mountain View

Open letter highlights issues and controversies in Cambridge Market redevelopment plans

“We agree with the fact that the Cambridge Market Square needs improving, and we welcome the decision to modernise,” Peacock Pearls Cambridge, one of the market traders, told Varsity. “The Market Square has been in decline for years,” and before the pandemic, “market traders were battling with the city council, requesting regular maintenance on the drains, toilets, electrical supply etc. but these requests were mostly ignored.”

“The current Market Square has serious drainage issues and that is probably the major ongoing issue affecting regular market traders,” Bookish Cambridge, another market trader, told Varsity. “The infrastructure is functional but needs some improvement, particularly to the overhead canopies, which leak in places.”

“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,” Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, said.

She added: “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.”