Until the 1930s an area of terraced housing, churches and shops, named Temperance Town, occupied the current site of Central Square. As a result, due to its legal history, Central Square is now one of a few areas in Cardiff designated an alcohol control zone, allowing the police to confiscate alcohol.
Between 1932 and 1934, the Great Western Railway replaced the original 1850s station building (also designed by their architect's department) with a new Art Deco building faced in Portland stone, enclosing a booking hall with noted Art Deco light fittings, all topped by a clock cupola. The Great Western Railway has its full name carved onto the façade (larger than the name of the station). During the new station's planning and construction, the GWR made representations to Cardiff Corporation to improve the immediate area. As a result, from 1930 the Corporation started to plan the removal of the adjacent working-class district, Temperance Town.
The streets of Temperance Town were demolished in 1937, although the intervention of World War II halted redevelopment plans until after the war. A new bus station was opened in 1954, and a new office building, Marland House, was constructed to the east of the bus station.
In 1999 a 4-metre-high (13 ft) sculpture, Cader Idris (named after Cadair Idris) was erected in Central Square. However, within six months it was reportedly described as a "dirty disgrace" and (in 2008) it was reportedly attracting undesirables to congregate on it. It was later dismantled and relocated to Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve.
By the early 2010s, Marland House had become a hard-to-let 1950s office block, which mainly housed a multi-storey car park; plus a series of street-side shops including a Greggs, Burger King, Cardiff Point, but mostly occupied by charity shops. With the development of St David's/Dewi Sant complete, and the resultant pedestrianisation of St Mary Street, Cardiff Council was now looking further eastwards to redevelop the Square, with the aim of creating a modern transport gateway to Cardiff city centre.
In 2010 hotel developer Urban Solutions promised £300,000 towards improvements towards the long-term regeneration of Central Square. They also agreed to fund twelve cycle stands and the OYBike hire point outside Central Station.
In 2012 another proposal was unveiled by Cardiff Council to sell off the existing bus station land for redevelopment and invest some of the money in Central Square, to be renamed "Capital Square". An 80-metre-long (260 ft) fountain was envisaged by the architects, Stride Treglown, along with a "Welsh Garden" reflecting the landscape of Wales. The bus station would close in September 2012 and a 10-12 storey office headquarters would be built on the site. A new bus station would be constructed to the east, after the demolition of Marland House.
In October 2014 another master plan was announced, including one million square feet (9.3 hectares) of new office space and a 200-bed hotel. The master plan was being overseen by Foster and Partners, led by Cardiff-born partner Gerard Evenden. As well as the original office space and hotel, the new plan also accommodates the relocated headquarters and main news studios of BBC Wales in a new feature building.
Construction began in Autumn 2015 on buildings located on the old bus station, with Marland House now scheduled for demolition from Summer 2016.[needs updating] The new plan for the Marland House site fits in with a proposed £80 million development of Cardiff Central station, with a two floor shopping and retail area located above a new bus station, connected to the railway station through both structures' extensive use of glass.
- Abby Alford Police clamp down on station drunks, South Wales Echo, 24 June 2008. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
- "Cardiff General Railway Station, Cardiff". Coflein. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- Abandoned Communities... Temperance Town (3), Abandonedcommunities.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
- Abandoned Communities... Temperance Town (5), Abandonedcommunities.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
- Statue of the week, South Wales Echo, 15 November 2004. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
- Tim Lewis, Cader Idris sculptor set for bay move, South Wales Echo, 19 March 2009. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
- Abby Alford Hotel developer pledges £300k to spruce up Cardiff’s Central Square, South Wales Echo, 13 August 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
- Peter Law, "Exciting Times" for Capital, South Wales Echo, 30 January 2012, pp. 4/5.
- Sion Barry, Cardiff's new Central Square development: An exclusive glimpse at the dramatic overhaul planned for the heart of the capital, Western Mail, 30 October 2014, pages 4/5.
- Media related to Central Square, Cardiff at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website
- Panorama of Central Square (Dec 2003), Urban75.org