30 AUG 2017

Dover District Council can Save Our Banksy!

I launched a campaign in June to safeguard the Brexit-themed mural on the corner of Townwall Street and York Street in Dover. Officials have now confirmed Dover District Council CAN save the Dover Banksy.

I applied to Historic England to have the iconic artwork listed, and called on Dover District Council (DDC) to do everything possible to preserve it.

Historic England's planning director Dr Andrew Brown has said the building does not meet their test of "special architectural or historic interest". But Dr Brown confirmed DDC "have powers to safeguard the mural through normal development control measures".

This is great news. We now know the council can save the Banksy after all – whether that's through retrospective permission, stop notices, new planning applications, or other control measures.

I have passed this information to the council and urged them to do the right thing.

The huge mural appeared on the wall of the former Shakespeare Hotel in May. The building's owners, the Godden family, later released a statement saying they were exploring options for the removal or sale of the piece.

I called on Dover residents to back my campaign to save the Banksy. I approached Historic England and DDC, before asking Arts Minister John Glen for his support at a meeting at the House of Commons.

It had been said the former Shakespeare Hotel was due for demolition, but the council have confirmed there is no demolition order against it.

The building forms part of DDC's waterfront development plans. The council's masterplan is yet to be finalised.

There is still time to do the right thing and preserve this asset.

I had hoped the Banksy would be listed and given the greatest possible protection. But I'm delighted Historic England have confirmed Dover District Council can save this much-loved artwork.

People have travelled across the country to come and see it. It's a massive draw for visitors to Dover and we need to make it the centrepiece of any new development.

Dover is the Banksy's rightful home. To demolish it would be a crime against culture.

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Charlie Elphicke

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