A new Primark store in Southend High Street has been sensationally SCRAPPED after an investigation revealed that street art on the currently vacant ex-BHS building has been successfully entered onto the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The murals with inspirational messages were added onto the boarded-up premises to try and brighten up the section of the High Street, and Southend News Network can EXCLUSIVELY REVEAL that Primark’s bid to move into the building has been reversed because Southend Borough Council successfully had the artwork registered with the global heritage organisation in February 2017.
Because of the artwork’s legally-protected status, any new retail outlet would have to leave the paintings in place – this would make it ‘practically impossible’ to use the site as a viable commercial enterprise.
The council’s head of cultural heritage and refuse collection Doug Head told our Chief Reporter that he was ‘delighted’ to be standing up for the arts and arting in Southend.
He said: ‘As soon as the inspirational murals went up a few months ago, it was obvious that steps had to be taken to make sure that they stayed in place for generations to come.’
‘The messages themselves are so incredibly moving that we felt that it would almost be a crime against humanity to remove them just so a company could make a few quid and employ a few people.’
‘In particular, we have already conducted research to prove that ‘Be Wonderful and Dream’ has increased our residents’ and taxpayers’ levels of mental wellbeing, self-worth and sociological awareness by 17%.’
‘Could we really throw that all away for the sake of a few sets of £2.50 leggings and a couple of 19-year-old mums fighting to the death over the last Paw Patrol tracksuit?’
UNESCO general secretary Dr Amin Yashed told Southend News Network that the Southend High Street artwork had been awarded a Category A1 status – this means that any attempt to remove or alter the paintings could be punishable by a £500,000 fine and a 25-year prison sentence.
He added: ‘We gave the motivational specimens a Category A1 classification as we felt that they are as thought-provoking as other works of art in this category, such as Michaelangelo’s David, La Jocconde and the Princess Leia mural by the old Southend Gasworks site.’
‘We did consider an application from Primark for the three paintings to be moved, but our inspectors on site noticed that they have been attached with extra-strong Pritt Stick and any sort of attempt at relocation could cause irreversible damage.’