MPs call for action over historic Cooperage building

The Cooperage has fallen into disrepair. The Cooperage has fallen into disrepair.
The Cooperage has fallen into disrepair. | BBC LDRS
A Newcastle MP has demanded swift action to save one of the city’s oldest and most historically important buildings.

Chi Onwurah has called for answers over the future of The Cooperage, a 15th century former pub on the Quayside.

The beloved medieval building has lain disused for more than a decade, much to the anger of campaigners desperate to see it revived.

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Its owner, the Apartment Group, announced plans last year for it to be transformed into a boutique hotel but there has been little sign since of that idea becoming a reality.

Ms Onwurah has now urged the company to either get on with the renovation quickly or sell The Cooperage, which has been surrounded by scaffolding for most of this year, to another developer.

The Labour MP for Newcastle Central said: “Serious concerns about the condition of The Cooperage continue to be raised with me as, despite scaffolding and covers, renovation works seem not to be in progress or near completion.

“I hope that if the current owners are unable to complete the necessary work at The Cooperage, then the property will be speedily sold to those able to revitalise this important and valued building.”

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Ms Onwurah said she had written to both the Apartment Group and Caroline Dineage, the Minister for Heritage, to raise the “deep concerns of residents and visitors” about the state of the building.

More than 24,000 people have now backed an online petition to protect the iconic site, which was placed on an at-risk list by Historic England in 2017.

The Cooperage started life as a merchant’s house and was also a barrel-maker’s shop and a grocer’s, while the building also survived the Great Quayside Fire of 1854.

It became a pub in 1974 and was a regular haunt for Quayside drinkers in the 80s and 90s, before it was closed in 2009.

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The Apartment Group, which runs Newcastle venues including As You Like It and House of Smith, did not respond to attempts to contact them for a response on Wednesday.

In September 2020, the firm’s chief operations officer Deborah Dhugga revealed plans to turn The Cooperage into a “really cool boutique hotel”.

She said at the time that there was “a lot going on in the background” despite delays caused by the Covid pandemic, but that the building’s grade II-listed status meant that any transformation “won’t happen overnight”.

Phil Clarke, head coordinator of the Save the Cooperage group, said that local residents trying to save the building were fed up with “year after year” of waiting.

He added: “There are no plans being submitted, no evidence of anything being done. Chi is absolutely bang on, if Apartment Group can’t do something then they have got to give it to someone who will.”

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