Banksy's Spy Booth: 'Stop notice could be issued'
A stop notice could be issued by Cheltenham Borough Council to prevent a Banksy artwork from being removed from the side of a private house.
A photo has emerged apparently showing a hole has been cut into the wall of the Grade II* listed building, on which the Spy Booth artwork was painted.
On Thursday it was confirmed it was being removed, but the council warned that planning permission may be needed.
The work, depicting men "snooping" on a telephone box, appeared in April.
Councillor Colin Hay, of Cheltenham Borough Council, said Q Scaffolding had been warned that listed building consent was required if work was being done to the fabric of the building on the corner of Fairview Road and Hewlett Road.
He said: "If they breach that they're in trouble. It's quite a serious offence. If they're making a hole then they're removing the fabric of the building.
"If you're taking a large part of the wall out that would be a serious breach of listed building consent. It's a criminal offence.
"They can be given a stop notice if they're carrying out some work, and then they really do have to stop."
On Thursday John Joyce, from Q, confirmed that the property's owner had contacted street art collector Sky Grimes to sell the piece, a week before Banksy confirmed that he had painted it.
He said the artwork was due to be removed over the weekend, ahead of it going on show at a London gallery for a month on 4 July.
According to English Heritage the maximum penalty for carrying out work to a listed building without listed building consent is "two years' imprisonment or an unlimited fine".
The organisation's website states: "In determining the fine a judge must have regard to any financial benefit which has accrued or appears likely to accrue to the wrongdoer so as to deny them any benefits."
However, campaigners trying to stop the Banksy being removed say that in fact the wall belongs to the county council.
Retired chartered surveyor Phil Jones said the mural was on a wall which was formerly part of a house which was bought by the county council to be demolished for road improvements in the 1960s.
He said: "64 Hewlett Road was acquired by the county council in about 1962 for a road improvement. It was terraced with 159 Fairview Road which means the wall in between is a party wall. Logically 159 owns to the middle of the wall and 64 owns the [external] side of it, to the middle."
In response, a Gloucestershire County Council spokesperson said the council "has no claim to the wall".
At the beginning of June, Banksy admitted painting the artwork, which is situated three miles from the government communications headquarters, GCHQ.