CAMBRIDGE City Council has launched its Civic Quarter engagement programme this week to find out what changes local residents, businesses, shoppers and visitors to Cambridge would like to see at the Corn Exchange, Guildhall, Market Square and surrounding public spaces.

Earlier this year the council appointed a development consultancy team, led by award-winning architects Cartwright Pickard, to lead this once-in-a-century opportunity to reimagine the area in central Cambridge to create a new civic quarter for the city.

The project is at an early design stage and relies on hearing what people currently like about these three historic sites and the public spaces in between; and how they could be improved. The engagement programme runs until Sunday 28 July.

The aim of the project is to create designs for the new civic quarter that will:
create a focal point in the centre of Cambridge that local people can be proud of and which lives up to the city’s reputation as a centre of excellence and cultural significance
attract residents and visitors to spend more time in the Market Square, Corn Exchange, and city centre shops, restaurants and bars

build on the agreed vision for the Market Square to make it a more accessible, attractive, welcoming, exciting and safe place to visit, shop and gather
make the Corn Exchange a more modern and appealing venue with updated facilities, while exploring new commercial opportunities and reducing operational costs
conserve the Grade II listed Guildhall as a net zero carbon building to save running costs, with a welcoming environment for the public, and fit-for-future working spaces for council uses; while creating new spaces for commercial occupiers in order to increase the council’s income to support frontline council services

Highlights of the proposals
• Making the Guildhall a more accessible hub for local democracy, with new work spaces and customer services centre for the council, while providing commercial space such as a hotel and rooftop pavilion
• Upgrading the Corn Exchange with better acoustics and AV systems, more food and drink options, energy efficiency upgrades, and making it more accessible
• Keeping the seven day market on the Market Square while creating more space for people and events.

Get involved
Online: visit to find out more about the project and to respond to the survey online
Community workshops: register online ( to attend a community workshop:
1. Cambridge Central Library on Wednesday 26 June, 4 to 6pm; or Wednesday 3 July, 4 to 6pm

2. Corn Exchange on Saturday 6 July, 10.30am to 12.30pm; or Saturday 13 July, 10.30am to 12.30pm

Popup events: Popup events will appear on the Market Square and at a variety of roadshow events to chat to passersby
Stakeholder workshops: A number of workshops will focus on specific themes, such as requirements for market traders and the business community, sustainability, and culture.

Email to find out more.

Ben Binns, Cambridge City Council’s Development Assistant Director, said: “We are right at the start of this process and while we have lots of exciting ideas, we need local people to tell us how we can make these spaces better for everyone to enjoy.

“These historic sites need care and attention, so while we are investing in preserving them, we also want to make sure we’re making them fit for a 21st century society. That includes opening up the spaces to make sure they are welcoming and accessible, targeting net zero operational carbon and water neutrality, increasing nature across the site, and creating more space for people.

“It’s a great time to be doing this work as 2024 marks the 800th anniversary of the Guildhall site as a seat of local government, and 2025 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Corn Exchange. Please make sure to come along to one of our engagement events, chat to us at one of our pop ups, or find out more and respond to the survey online – we need to hear from as many people as possible to make a success of this once-in-a-century opportunity.”

Following the engagement programme and completion of the RIBA stage 2 design work, the development proposals will be considered by councillors in November 2024. If approved, further development work would progress beyond RIBA stage 2, with comprehensive community engagement taking place throughout the project.

Find out more about the proposals and take the survey: