A new future for New Cross

Published on:
Friday March 27, 2020

GreenYard is just one of the exciting projects that Legend is working on in 2020. The development will play a key role in revitalising and regenerating the New Cross area of Manchester. There are huge development plans afoot to transform the area as part of the Northern Gateway; we look back at the area’s history and what the future holds for it.

For a good chunk of the 18th Century, north Manchester’s Swan Street went by a very different name: New Cross Street. Listed in the 1781 Manchester and Salford Trade Directory, New Cross Street seemingly took its name from the point at which the road met three other significant thoroughfares, Oldham Street, Oldham Road, and Great Ancoats Street.

By 1787, New Cross Street’s name had changed, but the name for the area stuck. When Manchester was incorporated in 1838, the New Cross Ward was established, a council ward that stretched from New Cross across Ancoats and New Islington. Between 1781 and 1838, Manchester’s rapid industrialisation had seen the city expand at an astonishing rate, and this process of urbanisation gave birth to the roads, houses, and businesses of the New Cross area.

New Cross was well-established in the Victorian Era. The cross itself, a hub of social activity and trade, was the site of an obelisk, around which permanent market stalls sold produce. Over time, the area became a hive of print business activity, known for its production of broadsides and penny ballads. The Oldham Road railway station, opened as a passenger station in 1839 before becoming a goods-only station in 1844, was one of the focal points of Manchester trade, with goods such as fruit, fish, cloth, and grain passing through each day. Though the station no longer exists, having been closed in the 1960s, remnants are still visible on Rochdale Road.

Much-loved landmarks

What we now refer to as New Cross is just a small section of what was once the New Cross Ward. Bordered by Collyhurst to the North, NOMA to the West, and Ancoats and the Northern Quarter to the South, New Cross is, in essence, contained within the rectangle formed by Swan Street, Oldham Road, Rochdale Road, and Livesey Street. Like the surrounding areas, New Cross began to decline in the mid 20th Century as the city’s industrial landscape changed; however, it retained many of its familiar and much-loved landmarks, such as the Crown and Kettle pub, the Marble Arch Inn, and the Flatiron Building on the junction of Rochdale Road and Sudell Street.

Integral part of the Northern Gateway

New Cross is ripe for regeneration, and this ripeness has been noted by both property developers and Manchester City Council. In 2015, the City Council approved plans for development, intending to see New Cross transformed into a residential extension to the Northern Quarter, following the immensely successful regeneration of neighbouring Ancoats, and increasing investment throughout north Manchester. Currently dominated by surface car parks, the streets of New Cross are a blank slate for future development. This would provide the city with much-needed housing (the Council has identified a need for 25,000 new homes by 2025), and see an unfortunately neglected area sensitively revitalised, bringing new prospects and investments while honouring its storied history. The regeneration will also form a key part of the Council’s wider proposed Northern Gateway development, stretching out of Manchester through the Lower Irk Valley.

Already, hotels and residential blocks have begun construction, marking the beginning of a new era for New Cross. Through the efforts of conscientious developers, working in tandem with the local community and local businesses, it will not be too long before New Cross reclaims its historical reputation as a thriving centre of community and business, and the Victorian streets thrum with life again. With our own GreenYard development on Rochdale Road, we hope to set a standard for sustainable, sensitive development, with housing suitable for a broad spectrum of residents. We’re excited to do our part in effecting this regeneration, and becoming a piece of something transformative.