Our city is reshaping for the future
Sponsored feature | By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID
This week’s news that parts of the Guildhall will be repurposed as a space for start up businesses is very encouraging and a sign of where successful cities are heading, yes, towards more non-retail use.
The high street is here to stay but not as we know it. Successful city centres have a healthy mix of retail and non-retail use, they have offices, labs, hotels and other leisure and community spaces at their heart.
While Cambridge is undoubtedly a successful city with its technology and business parks, the city centre does need to change to a more resilient and sustainable model. Workers who visit an office or lab on a regular basis bring regular footfall to that area and this serves local businesses, coffee shops and retailers during the day. After work, pubs, bars, restaurants and the leisure economy benefit.
[Read more from Ian: Mill Road plans seem disconnected]
This change to the Guildhall is just the first of a number due over the next few years in the city. We have new hotels planned at Lion Yard and The Grafton centre, and The Hobson, a new boutique hotel on St Andrew’s Street, will open this autumn.
The Grafton centre itself will soon be under new ownership and while I have no information as to the detail, I would be surprised, if like many other shopping centres, some of the retail space there was not put to other uses.
Just last year there was a consultation on the three large buildings at 16-19 Sidney Street and 21 Hobson Street, again the model here is likely to include significant new office space above the ground-floor retail. Railpen, the owners of the Beehive Centre, are currently consulting about its future use and if you believe the headlines, there could be almost no retail there in the future. And finally Pace Investments will start work later this year on its 300,000 sq ft office development at 104-112 Hills Road, and workers there will be able to patronise the Flying Pig after work.
[Read more from Ian: Dear new Prime Minister, we don’t need headlines]
These changes are part of an evolution in the role of cities and their spaces, they signify new investment and reuse, and will ensure our city centre remains vibrant and relevant into the future.