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Cambridge City Council

Public realm improvements rolled out in Cambridge city centre

27 February 2023

a man a four women sitting on a wooden bench outsideTHANKS to funding secured from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA), Cambridge City Council and its partners have rolled out an extensive programme of street and open space improvements across the city centre for the benefit of residents and visitors.

These improvements are the result of a £710,000 CPCA Business Board Local Growth Fund grant award to the council and its partners – Cambridge BID, Cambridgeshire County Council, King’s College Cambridge and Fitzwilliam Museum Enterprises. The Business Board is the Local Enterprise Partnership for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and is responsible for supporting economic, jobs and skills growth across the region.

The grant was awarded to support the city’s sustainable recovery following the pandemic and has been used to deliver the following city centre improvements:

  • Art benches on Christ’s Lane – with the support of Christ’s College – to help support local artists and brighten up the city. Community artists are able to display their work on the benches free of charge for up to a month, to support artists who may lack access to funding or commercial opportunities.
  • New communal seating area for Peas Hill to facilitate picnic eating and ‘pop-up’ public entertainment. Bike parking has been re-orientated increasing capacity for parked bicycles. New trees and planters have been installed here to provide shade in the summer, boost air quality and improve biodiversity.
  • Upgraded street lighting across Christ’s Pieces and New Square to enhance night-time public safety.
  • Mobile visitor information point delivered through two electric assisted quad bikes to be located at high footfall locations around the city centre, including Station Square and Market Square
  • Festoon lighting on Fitzroy Street, Market Passage and Peas Hill to light up the city at night. The mature beech tree at St John’s College, opposite Round Church, has also been wrapped in decorative lighting.
  • A multi-programmable light display in Petty Cury, with new projection lighting to the front facades of the Senate House and the University Old Schools.
  • New market stall canopies in the Market Square.
  • New street seating areas in St Andrew’s Street and Sussex Street. The previously damaged seating on Sidney Street has been replaced with higher quality units.

Further CCTV cameras are also being installed in the city centre as part of the programme to enhance public safety and security.

Cllr Alice Gilderdale, Executive Councillor for Recovery, Employment and Community Safety, said: “During the pandemic tourism and the economy took a big hit which has caused businesses of all sizes to suffer.

“Thanks to the Combined Authority grant funding and fantastic partnership work, we’ve been able to deliver a significant programme of public realm improvements to our city centre which will bring real benefits to the community whilst complementing the city’s historic character.

“As we continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and now face the cost-of-living crisis, we know the road to economic recovery will not be an easy one.

“However, by enhancing our visitor offer we hope more people, including local residents and those living outside of Cambridge, will want to visit and spend more time in our magical city which in turn will benefit our local retail, hospitality and cultural businesses.”

Alex Plant, chair of the Business Board, said: “Partnership working with the City Council has already delivered two innovative electric tourist information vehicles and it is great to build on that with further improvements which aim to support more cycling and walking, increase safety, and generally enhance the enjoyment for residents and visitors of being in the wonderful city of Cambridge.

“Our town and city centres have always had to adapt to changing times. Continuing to make them attractive, accessible, and welcoming places is important in keeping our high streets vibrant. In doing so we will support tourism, benefit businesses, and protect and create jobs, as well as improve people’s health and wellbeing. That is very much what Local Growth Fund grants are here to do.”

Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID, said: “Sincere thanks to the Combined Authority for supporting this activity, pre-Covid the visitor economy supported close to 20,000 jobs and was worth over £850m to the local economy. Whilst the city has recovered well during 2022 and our footfall remains robust, the retail hospitality and leisure sectors continue to need support and this grant has funded projects that are improving the visitor experience of the city and supporting these businesses.

“As we look towards the rest of 2023, we hope to see any remaining travel restrictions being eased and this will once again open up global travel. Cambridge, as a world-renowned heritage city will be well placed to welcome these visitors and the public realm improvements funded by this grant will help make the city a more attractive place.”