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Banksy 'Spy Booth' mural saved

The Spy Booth mural depicts three 1950s-style agents, wearing brown trench coats and trilby hats, using devices to tap into conversations at a telephone box  
Rod Minchin, Press Association

A PIECE of graffiti artwork by famous artist Banksy has been granted retrospective planning permission - meaning it cannot be removed without the approval of councillors.

The Spy Booth mural depicts three 1950s-style agents, wearing brown trench coats and trilby hats, using devices to tap into conversations at a telephone box.

It appeared overnight on a street in Cheltenham town centre in April last year - just a few miles from where the UK's surveillance network, GCHQ, is based. The painting on the side of a Grade II listed Georgian end terrace house has been a source of much controversy over the last year, with people trying to steal the mural, vandals painting over it and business and communities fighting over ownership.

On Thursday night, Cheltenham Borough Council's planning committee approved an application for retrospective listed building consent for the Banksy and accompanying satellite dish on the wall of No 159 Fairview Road. Councillors were told the application by prominent Cheltenham businessman Hekmat Kaveh did not include the public phone box, which is surrounded by the mural and in theory could be removed.

David Possee, who is the owner of the house, urged councillors to reject the application telling the committee the mural had caused him "significant financial problems".

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