Banksy graffiti 'should be listed' argues university

Banksy work on a building in Park Street in Bristol The retention of Banksy's work on private property depends on the owner

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Graffiti by street artist Banksy should be given better protection according to new research from Bristol University.

The artist's work sells for hundreds of thousands of pounds and he has become a cult figure in the art world.

But in July one of Banksy's famous early pieces, Gorilla in a Pink Mask, in Eastville, Bristol, was mistaken for "worthless" graffiti and painted over.

Now researchers at the city's university are arguing that his work should be protected as a listed asset.

The study, by Bristol University postgraduate John Webster, said there was "clearly a strong interest in Banksy's work".

"The public has indicated that this needs to be kept and by extension, preserved and an application for listing is one of these methods," he said.

In 2006, in a poll by Bristol City Council, 93% of people voted in favour of keeping a Banksy work on a clinic overlooking Park Street.

But Mr Webster, a solicitor specialising in planning law, argues existing legislation on graffiti "is aimed entirely at prevention and removal".

"Even if the owner of a wall wishes the graffiti to stay, the local authority could still serve a notice if in the authority's opinion it is detrimental to the amenity of an area," he said.

Last year the Abbey Road zebra crossing in London, which appeared on a Beatles album, was given Grade II listing.

But according to Mr Webster, the Listed Planning System "is not designed for the purpose of preserving graffiti".

"It is unclear though who would object to the listing if the owner is complicit," he said.

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