Council in u-turn over giant street hare

Owners of a popular recording studio complex in Hackney are celebrating after their local council reversed a decision to white wash over an artwork painted on the side of their building.

Last month The Premises studio in north east London was told by Hackney council to remove the large hare painting on the side of its building, put there with the permission of the studio's owners by Belgian street artist ROA. Bizarrely the council regarded the twelve foot painting of the hare to be dangerous graffiti and wanted to remove it, despite hundreds of local people saying how much they liked it. Council officials threatened to paint over the artwork themselves and bill the owners of The Premises for the work.

The studio launched an online petition to save the artwork, which more than 2000 people signed in the space of a week. The council finally succumbed to public opinion, and owners of The Premises announced on Monday that the council's threat to paint over the hare had been officially withdrawn.

The facility's Julia Craik said in a statement: "The petition to 'save the hare' received an astonishing amount of public support in a short period of time. At one point names were being added at a rate of one per minute and the topic trended on Twitter. Local artists, schools and residents all lent their support to demand that Hackney council drop their threat to the painting".

She added: "We're delighted that Hackney council have recognised our campaign and we'd like to thank everyone for all the amazing support and work to help save our hare. It's a beautiful piece of street art that everyone loves and we're very glad it's here to stay".

Many local residents are now calling on Hackney council to review its approach to street art, and set up a better system for distinguishing between damaging graffiti and groundbreaking artwork that brightens up otherwise grim streets. This is, after all, the council that painted over a popular and probably priceless cartoon created by British graffiti artist Banksy that had appeared on a Blur single cover, despite the protestations of the owner of the building where the artwork was painted.

The council says that 750 local people would have to sign a petition for the issue of street art policy to be discussed at a full council meeting. It has said it will post such a petition online on December 1.