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5 December, 2007 - 15:59 By Staff Reporter

Oliver twist to Guildhall redevelopment

Freeland Rees Roberts Architects has revealed its plans for redevelopment of the historic Cambridge Guildhall site following planning consent from the council.

The plans include the relocation of the Visitor Information Centre and the Cambridge City Council Box Office.

Redevelopment of the former Age Concern Day Centre in Parsons Court opposite is also proposed, to provide offices for the Council’s Arts & Entertainment’s team. The council has also agreed outline terms to let the space now occupied by the Visitor Information Office and Box Office to ‘Jamie’s Italian’, a chain being created by celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.

Work on the project is due to start next year and is expected to cost around £600,000 plus the restaurant.

Dominant over Cambridge’s market place, Guildhall has had continuous municipal use for nearly 800 years. It was largely rebuilt in 1939, although on the south side the 1862 ‘Large Hall’ was retained together with the 1916 two-storey block on the south west corner which formerly housed the library offices.

A suite of court rooms was included as part of the 1939 Guildhall building, which housed the Cambridge Crown Court until 2004.

“The Guildhall is in far too valuable a location to be simply taken up with bureaucracy,” said Rod Cantrill, executive councillor of Cambridge City Council.

“This announcement is part of our plans to make a much better use of this area for residents and Council tax payers and also demonstrates the City Council’s commitment to ensure the on-going vitality and economic prosperity of Cambridge’s city centre.

“It is great news, given Jamie Oliver’s local connection, that he has chosen Cambridge as a venue for his new concept. I believe that the new restaurant will add to the diverse range of food offerings already present in the city centre.”

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