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Newcastle MP demands swift action amid ‘serious concerns’ over condition of iconic Cooperage UK News

A Newcastle MP has called for swift action to save one of the city’s oldest and most historically significant buildings.

Chi Onwurah asked for answers about the future of The Cooperage, a 15th-century former pub on the Quayside.

The beloved medieval building has been unused for over a decade, much to the anger of activists desperate to see it come back to life.

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Its owner, the Apartment Group, announced plans to turn it into a boutique hotel last year, but there have been few signs since the idea has become a reality.

Ms Onwurah has now urged the company to do a quick renovation or sell The Cooperage, which has been surrounded by scaffolding for most of this year, to another developer.

The Labor MP for Newcastle Central said: ‘Serious concerns about the condition of The Cooperage continue to be raised with me as, despite the scaffolding and blankets, the renovations do not appear to be underway or near completion.

“I hope that if the current owners are not able to complete the necessary work on the cooperage, the property will be quickly sold to those who can revitalize this important and valuable building.”

Ms Onwurah said she had written both to the apartment group and to Caroline Dineage, the heritage minister, to express “deep concerns of residents and visitors” about the condition of the building.

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

The cooperage began life as a merchant’s house and was also a cooper’s shop and grocery store, while the building also survived the great fire of 1854.

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

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

MP Chi Onwurah says cooperage is part of Newcastle's legacy
The cooperage before the scaffolding was set up and (inset) Chi Onwurah

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

She said at the time that “a lot of things were happening in the background” despite the delays caused by the Covid pandemic, but that the status of the Grade II listed building meant that no transformation “would take place. overnight”.

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

He added: ‚ÄúThere is no plan being submitted, no evidence of anything being done. Chi is absolutely perfect, if Apartment Group can’t do something, it has to give it to someone who will.

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