Hackney Council has announced a U-turn on controversial plans to remove an iconic piece of street art from the walls of the Premises studios and café, on Hackney Road.
The 12 foot high rabbit was painted last year by renowned Belgian artist ROA, but came under threat in late September when environmental officers ordered that either the owners secure planning permission for the artwork, or foot the bill for it to be “obliterated.” The original removal notice described the painting as “a blight on the environment,” and “detrimental to the amenity of the area.”
The decision came a year after the council unwittingly painted over a valuable Banksy mural, without the owner’s consent.
Yesterday however, a council spokesperson announced that the rabbit could stay, and that they would “not be taking enforcement action in respect of the painting.” The U-turn was taken because the painting has been in situ for some time but has not yet provoked any local complaints.
A popular campaign to save the rabbit had been mounted by Premises studios, led by managing directors Julia Craik and Viv Broughton. In a joint response yesterday, they stated: “We are delighted that the council has recognised our campaign and we’d like to thank everyone for all the amazing support and work to help save our rabbit. It’s a beautiful piece of street art and we’re glad it’s here to stay.”
At the height of the debate, the option of securing planning permission had been rejected by Ms. Craik, who called it “a deceitful way of making money.” Instead, Premises Studios started a petition that has gathered 2548 signatures, arguing that the painting was actually an asset to the Hackney community.
The council has distanced the petition from their final decision, stating that the document “did fall some way short of the necessary criteria, and in it’s current format, would not be able to trigger a debate in the next meeting of full council.” A spokesperson however insisted that the council had acted co-operatively. “We have made every effort to work with all the concerned parties to try and resolve the issue, and are pleased that we can now put an end to this matter.”