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Cambridge market's chambers of secrets could be place for new bike parking

Chambers under Cambridge's market could be used for cycle parking if they are structurally sound, according to city council officials.

Basements of buildings adjoining the market – including the council’s HQ at the Guildhall – stretch out underneath the market’s cobbles.

The council plans to investigate these basements and chambers, as well as drains and utilities, as part of a plan to redevelop and improve the area. And if the basements are up to scratch, they could be put to use for extra cycle parking – unless members of the public come up with other good suggestions for them.

Undiscovered chambers could lie beneath the market (28070550)
Undiscovered chambers could lie beneath the market (28070550)

Joel Carré, head of environmental services at Cambridge City Council, said: “There are various structures under the market square, including drainage features and basements from the adjoining properties.

“We are in the process of doing some surveys to understand what their structural integrity is in terms of are they collapsing, do they need work doing to them to maintain them. We need to do a more detailed survey because we only know their location. Potentially, some of these basement areas might provide an opportunity for us if there’s enough head space.

“If you’ve got an existing void or basement space that could be repurposed for cycle parking, we want to look at those opportunities as well as purpose-built underground cycle parking where you sink a structure into the ground. But those have major costs – we are talking several million pounds just for a vertical cycle parking structure. It would be significantly less costly to make use of an existing asset that might not be being fully utilised.”

Cambridge Market (28069903)
Cambridge Market (28069903)

However, he warned the basements would have to be viable, “otherwise it is just wishful thinking”.

The council also hopes to relocate the market’s waste compactor underground by excavating a site on the square.

Mr Carré explained: “It would remove something that isn’t all that visually attractive. We wouldn’t put that in a basement, though, we would look for a clear space and bury it.”

Glenys Self in Cambridge Market . Picture: Keith Heppell. (28069911)
Glenys Self in Cambridge Market . Picture: Keith Heppell. (28069911)

Traders were concerned investigations could disrupt the market, forcing them off the square.

Glenys Self, a trader and spokesperson for Friends of Cambridge Market, said: “We’re obviously worried that any work could mean that the market has to be relocated temporarily, and if that is the case we would want to remain in streets close to the market square.”

Cambridge Market plans from feasibility study. (28069979)
Cambridge Market plans from feasibility study. (28069979)

Mr Carre responded: “If we can do the work around the market traders we will. We will minimise impact on them.”

He added the council would look at “adjoining locations” for the market stalls if they had to be moved.

Read more:

Report sets out Cambridge market square redevelopment options

Private meeting to discuss ‘concept design’ of Cambridge market

Private investors could fund market redevelopment

Cambridge's historic market cobbles win grade II listing

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