Flying flags and permissions: A Piggotts guide to what you need to know Part 1 • Piggotts Flags and Branding
Flying flags and permissions: A Piggotts guide to what you need to know Part 1
18 October 2017

As flag makers and installers we are often asked at Piggotts & Branding Ltd, “what permissions are required for a flag pole or flying a flag?” Over this and next week’s Blogs we will cover all the things you need to know about flying a flag.

Flags are a very British way of showing or expressing celebration, joy, national pride and support. They are emotive symbols which can boost local and national identities plus strengthen community cohesion. Flags have an ability to bring everyone together under one supporting symbol. In October 2012 the government made some changes to Regulations originally set in 2007 which alters those Regulations in order to widen the types of flags which can be flown in England.

Flags are flown as advertisements for the purposes of the planning regime and some require formal consent (permission) from the local planning authority, and some don’t. The detailed controls over flag flying are set out in amended regulations and can be found here:

All flag flying is subject to some standard conditions. All flags must:

  • be maintained in a condition that does not impair the overall visual appearance of the site;
  • be kept in a safe condition;
  • have the permission of the owner of the site on which they are displayed (this includes the Highway Authority if the sign is to be placed on highway land);
  • not obscure, or hinder the interpretation of official road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs, or otherwise make hazardous the use of these types of transport, and
  • be removed carefully, where so required, by the planning authority.

Subject to compliance with the standard conditions, there are 3 categories of flag:

  1. Flags which can be flown without consent of the local planning authority;
  2. Flags which do not need consent provided they comply with further restrictions (referred to as “deemed consent” in the Regulations);
  3. Flags which require consent (“express consent”).

We will review section 1 below and sections 2 and 3 next week.

  1. Flags which do not need consent

The recent changes allow a wider range of national, sub-national, community and international flags. The full list of flags that do not require consent are:

  • Any country’s national flag, civil ensign or civil air ensign;
  • The flag of the Commonwealth, the European Union, the United Nations or any other international organisation of which the United Kingdom is a member;
  • A flag of any island, county, district, borough, burgh, parish, city, town or village within the United Kingdom;
  • The flag of the Black Country, East Anglia, Wessex, any Part of Lincolnshire, any Riding of Yorkshire or any historic county within the United Kingdom;
  • The flag of Saint David;
  • The flag of Saint Patrick;
  • The flag of any administrative area within any country outside the United Kingdom;
  • Any flag of Her Majesty’s forces;
  • The Armed Forces Day flag.

The above flags or their flagpoles must not display any advertisement or subject matter additional to the design of the flag, but the Regulations now highlight that you can attach a black mourning ribbon to either the flag or flagpole where the flag cannot be flown at half mast, for example, when flying a flag on a flagpole projecting at an angle from the side of a building. The use of the word “country” in (a) and (g) of the list above, includes any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and any British Overseas Territory. The flags of St. George and St. Andrew are recognised as the national flags of England and Scotland, but the flags of St. David and St. Patrick are listed separately as they do not necessarily fall into the category of a country’s national flag.

Next week we shall review sections 2 and 3.

Piggotts Flags & Branding, Unit 3, Taber Place, Crittall Rd, Witham Essex CM8 3YP
Reg Office: The Maltings, Chelmsford Road, Norton Heath, Ingatestone, Essex CM4 0LQ
Reg Number: 10582644 VAT number: GB 260 4258 22
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