Development Consultancy Consortia invited to bid for once-in-a-century Cambridge Civic Quarter scheme 

CAMBRIDGE City Council is seeking a development consultancy consortium to lead on a once-in-a-century opportunity to reimagine Cambridge’s Market Square, Guildhall, and Corn Exchange to create a new Civic Quarter for the city. 

By investing in one scheme to make improvements to the two council-owned buildings, the market square, and the public realm that links them, the council will be able to:

  • Create a focal point in the centre of Cambridge that local people can be proud of and which lives up to the city’s world-renowned reputation as a centre of excellence and cultural significance
  • Attract residents and visitors to spend more time in the market, the Corn Exchange, and city centre shops, restaurants and bars 
  • Build on the vision to make the Market Square a more accessible, attractive, welcoming, exciting and safe place to visit, shop and gather during the day and into the evening 
  • Make the Corn Exchange a more modern and appealing venue with updated facilities; explore new commercial opportunities; and reduce operational costs
  • Conserve the Grade II listed Guildhall as a zero-carbon building with a welcoming environment for the public, and fit-for-future working spaces for the council’s HQ and business occupiers, to save costs and increase income towards protecting frontline services.

The estimated contract value is £1,250,000, and the successful consortium will be required to produce commercial proposals and corresponding RIBA stage 2 design that meets the council’s core objectives for the project. 

Prior experience of commercialising and re-modelling Civic or Heritage buildings to current sustainability or net zero carbon design standards will be essential. A communications consultant will also be vital in ensuring stakeholder and resident engagement is comprehensive and effective throughout the process.

The deadline for tender submissions is 21 March 2024, with contract commencement estimated to be April 2024. Following completion of the RIBA stage 2 work, the development proposals will be considered by councillors in November 2024. If approved, further development work would progress beyond RIBA stage 2.

The procurement process launched on 9 February through the Proactis portal. Prospective bidders are invited to attend a bidders day including a presentation and guided tour to include the Market, Guildhall and Corn Exchange on Friday 16 February to learn about the buildings and the scope of the project. Contact to register to attend the bidders day.

Cllr Simon Smith, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, said: “There is cross-party support to bring forward proposals and business cases for the Guildhall, Market Square and Corn Exchange to create a more attractive and vibrant heart to the city.  

“We are right at the start of this process, with no preconceived vision for the end result. So it’s vital we find the best of the best consultancy teams to lead this work for the city and ensure the voices of local people are heard and reflected in the design of the Civic Quarter.”