Private investors could fund market redevelopment
The city council could seek private investors to fund a redevelopment of Cambridge’s market square if designs are approved next year.
Last month, the council published a feasibility study looking at four different levels of possible changes to the market.
These ranged from a £3m revamp that tackled issues of drainage and electricity supply, all the way to a complete redesign – costing more than £6m – with a canopy area, underground cycle parking, removable stalls, a water feature and events space.
Cllr Rosy Moore said funding was “one of the next stages we are going to look at. If we have a plan, maybe people will want to be a part of it.
“We would definitely look for investors but I can’t say who until we have approached them in person. We haven’t decided that yet. Things move very slowly. It would be after having the design work done that we would look for investment.”
She acknowledged that some of the more ambitious proposals for the market were too expensive without private investment, adding: “Underground cycle parking would be just too expensive unless we get a generous benefactor who wants to pay millions for it – I think we can assume that’s not going to happen.”
But she added the council’s main ambition in carrying out the work was to “improve the market and make it usable in the evenings as well to make the most of it as a central feature in Cambridge.”
However, concerns have been raised by traders who fear that if a major redevelopment of the market took place, it could cause a reduction in the number of stalls. Alternatively, if foldaway stalls were brought in so that the market could be used at night for other events, they could “blow away”.
Glenys Self, a trader and spokesperson from Friends of Cambridge Market, said: “In other markets with foldaway stalls there is often a problem with them blowing down in the wind. The stalls we have now are solid and in good working order, it would be a huge waste to get rid of them.”
Meanwhile, former city council historic environment manager, John Preston, has written to the authority to object to the study’s assertion that the market currently hides historic features such as the fountain and restricts views of buildings such as great
St Mary’s and the Guildhall.
He writes this is “very disparaging to the market” and continues: “This totally and wilfully ignores the historic significance of the market itself. The market use is a vital historic connection between Cambridge and its hinterland. It does not “hide historic features.’”
However, Cllr Moore responded: “This is just a feasibility study. If there was some way to have nicer views of the square and keep the market that is something to aim for, but if it is a decision between views or market then the market would win.”
More by this authorAlex Spencer