Banksy’s Spy Booth Mural Cherished and Perserved in Cheltenham

Banksy’s Spy Booth mural, which popped up in the English town of Cheltenham in April last year, has been granted listed protection by the local government, the BBC reports.

The mural depicts three men clad in trench coats and equipped with listening devices surrounding a telephone box. The UK Government Communication Headquarters is located nearby. (see Suspected Banksy Pokes Fun at Government Surveillance).

Because Banksy sprayed the mural on a Grade II-listed building without consent, the mural has not been eligible for inclusion in the house’s protection status. However, council planners at the Cheltenham Borough Council voted 12 to 1 in favor of granting retrospective planning permission.

Since its appearance the mural has been subject to a number of vandalisms and removal attempts. It was also at the center of an ownership dispute between a London art gallery and the community (see Vandals Completely Deface Banksy’s Spy Booth, and Can Locals Save Snowden-Inspired Banksy, and Local Council Blocks Removal of Banksy Mural).

The newly-granted listed status will finally put an end to ownership battles by legally protecting the artwork from being altered or removed.

However, the protection status does have certain limitations: Martin Chandler, borough council case officer, explained “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 changes to it.”

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