Banksy 'Spy Booth' mural in Cheltenham gets protection

Banksy's Spy Booth artwork in Cheltenham Image copyright PA
Image caption The "Spy Booth" mural appeared in Cheltenham last April

A Banksy mural painted on a Cheltenham house has been protected after council planners agreed to grant it retrospective planning permission.

The "Spy Booth" artwork, showing three figures "snooping" on a telephone box, appeared in Hewlett Road last April.

The "unauthorised" mural was added to the Grade II listed property without listed building consent, so could not be included in its listed status.

Cheltenham Borough Council voted by 12 votes to one to grant the application.

Retrospective planning consent has been granted for changes to the character of the listed building, meaning further permission would be needed if somebody wanted to remove it.

The mural, located about three miles from government listening post GCHQ, has been a source of controversy ever since it appeared.

It has been daubed with white paint, sprayed with silver and red graffiti, had people trying to steal it and businesses and communities fighting over ownership.

But with listed building consent now granted both the mural and the building's satellite dish will be protected from unauthorised alteration or removal.

Martin Chandler, borough council case officer, said: "It will be afforded a greater level of protection than it has currently but it doesn't mean we won't be faced with future applications to consider other changes to it."

"It [planning consent] doesn't automatically mean it's going to be retained in situ."

Robin Barton, from the Bankrobber gallery in London, who has been trying to broker a deal to sell the Banksy, said the listing was "an ill-judged gesture" and "short sighted".

"It will very likely result in the terminal decay of the wall. There is nothing to protect the wall now.

"Now that it's listed no-one can apply any protection to it. It's it absolutely vulnerable to the elements."

Mr Barton said he said he had spent more than £25,000 on protecting the work.

"The owner now wants to paint it over and move on with his life," he added.

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