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Bids invited for historic Shire Hall in Cambridge

02 February 2024

Bids are invited for the lease or sale of part of the Shire Hall site in Cambridge, after the previous preferred bidder was unable to continue their interest.

In a city-centre location, Shire Hall had been the Cambridgeshire County Council’s headquarters since the 1930s, but the site itself was the seat of Government in Cambridge for over 1,000 years.

Previously the site of two medieval castles, the current building was the county council’s administrative centre from its completion in 1933 until 2022, when the council relocated to Alconbury as part of its planned savings programme.

The property is being marketed by BNP Paribas Real Estate from 29 January 2024 and comprises the original Shire Hall, the Octagon the Old Police Station, Castle Lodge and public car parking.

Offers will be considered by councillors on the Assets & Procurement Committee at their June 2024 meeting. Councillors will review not only the financial bid made but whether the offer delivers environmental and social benefits.

The council expects strong interest from commercial bidders, with the building’s prime position in Cambridge making it highly suitable for different uses. Due to the historic importance of the site all proposals will require full planning, Listed Building consents to ensure protection of the assets on site.

The council has applied to give part of the lawn between the front of Shire Hall and the Mound the legal protection of ‘Town Green’ status, and has also invested in new interpretation boards at the site and increased litter bins and maintenance to improve the visitor experience although these areas are not included in the disposal.

John Macmillian, Head of Assets at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "Shire Hall is a unique and historic site in Cambridge city centre – opportunities to acquire a site of just over three acres in this central location do not come around very often.

"Sitting prominently on Castle Hill, Shire Hall has real character and massive potential for an exciting development."

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, added: “Since bids were originally invited for Shire Hall in 2018, we have lived through the international COVID-19 pandemic and we’re still feeling the effects of a national cost-of-living crisis. Even against these challenging conditions the city of Cambridge has continued to experience unprecedented growth.

“Acquiring this central Cambridge site, which had been a seat of local government since Norman times, remains a really exciting opportunity for investment and development. I’m looking forward to selecting a commercial partner that’s right for this historic location, right for Cambridge residents and right for our county’s tax-payers.”

Anyone interested in finding out more information should contact Max Marston at BNP Paribas Real Estate (

More information on the premises can be found at here.