Save the Store, Urges Greens Councillor

The facade of Newcastle’s iconic Store building should be incorporated into the state government’s proposed bus interchange, Greens councillor John Mackenzie says.

Cr Mackenzie will urge Newcastle councillors to back him at a city council meeting on Tuesday.

Cr Mackenzie wants the Store’s front to be part of a “hybrid design”, with Transport for NSW’s planned bus interchange.

“The Store is a monument to how co-operatives, working people and working-class solidarity built this great city,” Cr Mackenzie said.

Council staff have recommended against Cr Mackenzie’s plan, instead calling for a workshop on the matter with Transport for NSW officials and a commitment to pursue another way to recognise the Store.

The Store, which was also known as the Newcastle and District Co-operative Society, closed in April 1981 after 83 years of operation.

 A council report said a heritage statement for the Store’s demolition found its significance “largely lies in its intangible social and historic values, with its architectural and streetscape contribution being of lesser quality”.

Transport for NSW said earlier this month that a heritage strategy and reference group would be created to help preserve the Store’s history.

“We know this site is important to the social and cultural history of Newcastle and we plan to make sure its legacy is recognised in any future development on the site,” Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel had said.

At its peak in the late 1950s, the Store was believed to be the biggest and most successful co-operative in the southern hemisphere.

“The Store was not only a thriving commercial entity, it provided education and welfare services to generations of people in our city,” Cr Mackenzie said.

“To this day, there has never been anything in Australia like the Store. It was so pivotal to regional prosperity at all levels.”

He said the Store was “a vital part of our shared story”.

“Demolishing this site means the permanent and irreversible loss of this history and what it means for Newcastle.

“Instead, that history can be retained in a visually stunning way that complements the surrounding heritage items in that Newcastle West precinct.”

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