Campaigners in Cheltenham are asking for the community’s support in trying to keep Banksy’s Spy Booth mural – despite its recent vandalism. Hekmat Kaveh, a local businessman, has submitted an application to the planning department of the borough council to preserve the work displayed on the side of a grade two listed building. Yet art dealer and owner of Bankrobber London Art Gallery in Mayfair; Robin Barton, has already objected to the proposal, which if granted would make the mural a protected piece of art.
But Mr Kaveh and the ‘Save The Banksy Group’, led by Angela De Souza, are calling for those in favour of the painting to register their views on the application.
Mr Kaveh told the Gloucestershire Echo: “We are aware of the enormous passion and interest in Cheltenham for the retention of this piece of art, and it would be great if this interest was effectively registered on the council’s website as part of the retrospective listed building application. Although I am confident that this work will be authorised, it is a difficult decision for the conservation officers, as we are effectively asking them not only to allow a piece of graffiti to remain on a listed building, but to formally authorise it”.
He added: “This piece of art, more than any other I know, has brought to the attention of the public, that street art, when executed as superbly as this, has a place in any part of town and now, even on listed buildings.”
Yet Mr Barton has made his objections known regarding Mr Kaveh’s proposal; stating that: “This could set a worrying precedent that an unsolicited act of vandalism could be considered for listing without the freeholder’s consent or knowledge”.