27 November 2023

Another Asian eatery on the Goulburn drawing board as Workers Club serves up more choice for diners

| John Thistleton
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facade of old shop building

This 1886 shopfront will be redeveloped inside to allow the Goulburn Workers Club to add more facilities. The facade above the awning will be retained. Photo: John Thistleton.

Goulburn Workers Club wants to redevelop a vacant shop next door into an Asian restaurant and offer more choices for eating and families.

Planning documents lodged with the Goulburn Mulwaree Council reveal the club has owned the shop next door at 232 Auburn Street since 2006 and it has been vacant for about eight years.

The club wants to build a ground-level shopfront, cafe fitout and new structure at the rear. Architectural plans show an Asian kitchen, upper and lower levels for dining booths, and an alfresco area. Documents in the application indicate there will be a discrete dining space for guests with children, additional back-of-house support space for existing kitchens and revised food offerings, and more storage for chilled food and drinks.

The 1970s-’80s aluminium shopfront and automatic sliding door at 232 Auburn Street will be replaced with new steel-framed windows and an entry to the Workers Club. A front room facing the street will include a counter to serve people coming off the street and access to the present club.

The club’s planning consultants, Studio Nine Architects of Sydney, say despite licensing restrictions for registered clubs regarding public access, the three servery windows will allow the Workers Club to provide direct interaction with the street – whether that be via clear/open windows to the family dining space, or the provision of seasonal offerings to the footpath, such as gelato carts in summer or popcorn stands in winter.

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“Family dining within 232 Auburn Street affords the public realm the most frequently occupied space within Goulburn Workers Club, and allows the club to customise this space for boisterous family activities,” the consultants’ report says.

The club’s chief executive Brett Gorham has been contacted for comment.

Under the redevelopment proposal, the shop’s floor will be taken out and replaced to match the one in the Workers Club. The old shop’s suspended ceiling, probably installed after 1980, will be removed. Investigative works suggest that the original plaster ceiling is still in place, with sections of decorative cornice. This could be restored depending on advice from the council’s heritage adviser.

Upstairs, the old shop has been vacant for years, housing an air-conditioning plant to service the tenancy on the ground floor. The plant will be removed and the walls and floor repaired. A new access stair will be installed along with new mechanical equipment. Existing windows and doors will be repaired, however, these are not intended for use in the foreseeable future.

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Listed as a Local Heritage item in a heritage conservation area, the shop has been consistently used for retail and associated activities since its construction in 1886. According to Studio Nine Architects, since 2016 the small shop housed a clothing retail business, Dress Up Palace, which relocated to 358 Auburn Street in 2020. Before this, the premises traded as The Purple Patch, an Anglicare charity goods store from 2009. Earlier still, the tenant was Something Special, a retail outlet for nearly 15 years.

Now assessing the planning documents, Goulburn Heritage Group believes the original shop was designed by prolific local architect E C Manfred for Thomas Waddell, a pastoralist and former premier of NSW.

The Workers Club expanded from McKell Place to 234-236 Auburn Street in 1999, demolishing a supermarket that had been the site of the Royal Hotel. The club demolished another historic, 1886 shop on the northern side of 230 Auburn about 2002. Tenancies in that shop included Travel Goods-Bags and Mystic Gifts, and in earlier times Joppa Tearooms.

About that time, as more applications surfaced to demolish shops on both sides of Auburn Street, residents met and subsequently formed the Goulburn Heritage Group, which has fought ever since to preserve the city’s built heritage.

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