OLD CARDIFF – ‘Centreplan70’ retro plans for the City

Centreplan 70 Brochure Front Cover

Credit: Greg NL

A major overhaul of Cardiff City centre was planned back in 1970 with the catchy title of ‘Centreplan 70’

Conceived back in the late sixties, the aim of Centreplan 70 was to redevelop the city centre by bringing new roads, pedestrian walkways, an art centre and the idea of an indoor shopping centre amongst many other initiatives.

Polystyrene models and promotional videos were made detailing the huge changes to the city centre and surrounding areas.

Below is a short cut-down version of the plans featuring some old shots of Cardiff from the late 60’s and early 70’s.

Does anyone know if the shots of the tunnel and car park are from Cardiff or some other city like Bristol?

The plan illustrates developments approved in the late 1960s on the edge of the city centre, and plans for the comprehensive redevelopment over the subsequent decades.
High rise towers blocks were planned above pedestrianised bridges linking multi-storey car parks to the extensive covered shopping malls.


Map of Centreplan

Credit: Greg NL

The seeds for both St David’s and the later St David’s 2 shopping centres are evident in the plan. Certain plans show the addition of THREE bus stations and multiple ‘crosslink’ roads destroying numerous suburbs to allow cross-city travel! Only St Mary Street was protected from comprehensive redevelopment.

It’s truly fascinating to discover the actual drawings the planners had for our city back then and to see what we have ended up with now!

Below are the plans for what we now call the Gabalfa roundabout. (which we all really call the Gabalfa flyover!)


Credit: Greg NL


Also these plans illustrate what destruction would’ve occurred to create all these new roads throughout the city and the amount of disruption they would’ve created with hundreds of houses being knocked down to make way for the routes!
Just think we could’ve ended up a bit like a certain part of Bristol or Birmingham with large dual carriageway roads slap bang through the city centre and close suburbs! (phew!)

Just look how populated the city centre was on these plans – row after row of houses and other buildings all replaced by humoungous shopping centres now. Some roads have totally disappeared whereas other are just a small pedestrianised strip off Queen Street.


Credit: Greg NL

I love looking at the old maps and spotting things that you have totally forgotten – who remembers the Queen Street arcade that used to house part of the department store Allders and Yan’s Key Cutting shop? So many forgotten street names and small lanes – all totally gone in the name of progress.

Cardiff City centre used to be a great maze of back streets whereas the only representations left now are Womanby Street and Park Lane which typify the small, quirky streets that were always ignored. (They are a bit more developed and loved these days!)


Credit: Greg NL


Credit: Greg NL

Some ideas have come to fruitition whereas others have totally failed luckily due to being rather destructive or just plain silly! Thankfully the overall plan was never realised, due in part to the 1970s property recession.

Big thanks to Greg for allowing use of the photos of the Centreplan70 document.

5 Responses to “OLD CARDIFF – ‘Centreplan70’ retro plans for the City”

  1. What a fascinating insight into 1970s thinking – great video too. I love the council planners crouching like chimpanzees. Thank heavens the economy took a dive.

  2. Fantastic 🙂

  3. Facinating to see so much investment going in to the town center, and here we are 30 years later doing it again.

  4. Great to see this. I was 10 in 1970. My father was a city architect. Centreplan 70 was quite a major happening, not only for Cardiff but in our own home ! I remember visiting the shop in St Mary’s Street which had been converted into a showcase for the proposed developments.

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