November 02, 2010

Save the Banksy Rat

My morning commute takes me past the old Whitehouse pub on the corner of Berry Street and Duke Street. I suspect most people wouldn't recognise it by name, but if I say that it's the Banksy pub in Liverpool then I think many more people would know what I was talking about. Here's a picture of it...

Banksy's house rat

It's a rather run-down building, but the Banksy rat livens up what would otherwise be a fairly bland and ordinary block.

The pub came up for auction a few months back, which made the BBC news website - which claimed it was up for £495,000 but could go higher. It actually sold for £114,000, from a guide price of £70-80,000 and just afterwards this article in the Liverpool Echo said:

"[The new owners] said they were keen to keep the Banksy rat, renovation work permitting.The 200-year-old pub is one of the city’s best known landmarks and is Grade II listed."

Since then nothing much seems to have happened. Scaffolding went up and lots of refurbishment work took place on the adjacent building on Berry Street, but I don't know if that's related or not. Then today I spotted some planning application notices fastened to the lampposts outside the pub. There seem to be two (rather similar) planning applications in 10F/1494 and 10L/1722.

The Related Documents section seems the most interesting, with diagrams of the changes being proposed and the work to be done. The headline for the application is that it's a change of use from a pub to a shop with two flats above. I'm not convinced that "there is great demand for convenience stores with alcohol sales and for living accommodation in the City Centre", but that's nothing of any real import.

The big question-mark is over what happens to the exterior. It seems very strange (to me at least) that there's no mention of the Banksy in any of the documents that I've looked through. There is mention of all the windows being replaced (which would remove most of the bottom half of the rat) and existing "render" to be removed from front and side elevations and rerendered with painted finish (their "s on "render") which would remove the rat's head and shoulders.

I also spotted a Venmore's auction board up on the door, and it's listed in their November catalogue with a guide price of £175,000 and "Famous Banksy Graffiti Art on Building" written below the photo in the "Look out for..." section. It's even referred to as "Banksy Building".

It seems strange to me that something which features so prominently in the auction listing gets no mention in the planning application. If I was being cynical I'd think they were trying to sneak through a planning application to allow the artwork to be removed (as it no doubt makes it trickier to refurbish the building) to make the site more attractive in the new auction.

The closing date for comments on the planning application is the 15th November 2010, and you can submit you comments here and also over here.

Update: Hakim phoned the planning office this morning to clarify a couple of things. I wasn't sure if comments from people who live a way from the site would be considered, but it turns out they will be, so everyone and anyone can add comments. More importantly, the reason there are two seemingly identical applications is that one is for "consent" (presumably because it's a listed building?) and comments should be left on both applications. If you've already left a comment on one, please post one to the other application (and if you followed the link from here then this will be the one you haven't done yet.


Posted by Adrian at November 2, 2010 01:58 PM | TrackBack

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Copy of my comments sent to object to the CoU Application for the Bansky Building.

As a native Liverpudlian I feel that the city should embrace the 'Banksy' work.

Our city has a wealth of artistic, architectural and cultural history and this building should be added to it, not destroyed.

This building is now known as the 'Banksy building', to me, this means that people have already taken this artwork into their concious mind.

Art is not alays to viewed within the confines of a gallery.

I robustly object to any application that wishes to remove the artwork from the building.

The application should include an informative requiring the artwork to be kept and should any damage or 'accidental' removal occur, then a hefty fine would be levied - and I mean HEFTY, not a £2000 'slap on the wrist'.

Posted by: Lyn Baranowska at November 9, 2010 01:18 PM

Save the Liverpool Banksy Rat, a modern icon of this "Cool" City (or carefully transfer it to YHA Liverpool south wall) GB1

Posted by: Peter at March 24, 2011 12:51 PM
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