A design competition has been launched to improve Salisbury’s neglected city centre.

The aim is to create a £3m ‘grand square’ which will be part of a series of 24 projects for the city.

The competition is to redevelop the medieval Market Place and Guildhall square in the city to create ‘European-style café culture’.

The council hopes to rival other regional centres like Southampton, Winchester, Basingstoke and Bournemouth.

Project members of the ‘Salisbury Vision’ project are Salisbury District Council, Wiltshire County Council and the South West Regional Development Agency.

The members launched the competition which has been organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The winning consultant will also be asked to develop a public realm strategy for the city centre which will act as a guide and master plan for all public realm work.

Work on the winning design could begin during the second half of 2009.