Cambridge Council sets £100,000 aside to progress ‘multi-million pound’ Market Square upgrade

Cambridge Market has been deemed “the filthiest around” by traders and the public — a view contested by City Councillors but who have now allocated £100,000 of immediate investment for improvements.

The new Cambridge budget report allocates £100,000 to the Market Square which it describes as seeking to deliver ‘a strategic development project to enhance the economic, social and environmental value of the Market Square public realm as a key community asset to support the city’s growth.’

‘The project will be undertaken in two stages,’ the report states. ‘Stage 1 (feasibility assessment and preliminary costings) in 2018/19, to determine whether or not the project is financially viable, before proceeding to stage 2 (detailed design and associated capital investment plan) in 2019/20.’

City council leader Lewis Herbert says that 2018 is the time for a discussion about whether petrol and diesel vehicles should be banned from the square in a bid to tackle poor air quality in Cambridge.

But initial proposals are likely to be more modest with improved cleaning and refuse collection— although in a recent interview with the Cambridge News, Cllr Herbert, said that only a ‘multi-million pound’ project will be sufficient to deliver the upgrade the city wants to see.

‘It’s not just a day market now, we have the evening market and a different market altogether on Sundays,’ said Cllr Herbert

‘The night markets have been a great success, there is a clear demand for late-night events.

‘I think Market Square should be more obviously the heart of the city. It is the biggest space in the middle of the city centre and lots of people use it.

‘We need a revamp to add life to the area. I think it can look a bit unwelcoming late in the evenings. I’d like it to look welcoming at all hours of the day.’

A market operates on the Market Square every day although the Sunday market is different to that trading in the week. Night Markets have been tried, operating alongside entertainment with some success but councillors are in doubt much more is needed than the initial £100,000 spend will provide.

‘It is really due a proper overhaul but there are challenges and the cost will be high because it is a very old, cobbled area with lots of services and infrastructure,’ says Cllr Herbert.

‘The cost of upgrading the space should not be underestimated – we’re talking a multi-million pound project – so we need to get to the bottom of what capital investments we would need to make it happen.

‘We have to work out how an upgrade will pay for itself in the future too.’

Read what Cambridge Market traders think.

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