National Organisation of Residents Associations


NORA Response to Proposals to Liberalise the Flying of Flags



NORA welcomes the government’s wish to reduce the need for planning controls in the interest of improving efficiency, but NORA recognises the need for management of developments that affect the environment, which might prove deleterious to community interests.

The current legislation on the Flying of Flags has merit in that there is discretion for the flying of flags without the need for planning consent, but for flags that might cause problems planning consent may still be needed. The de-regulation proposed in this Consultation Paper fails to identify the risks of the recommendations even for those flags that do not need planning consent. The wave of USA patriotic anger precipitated by the catastrophe of 9/11 led to an extra-ordinary proliferation of national flags all over New York including enormous ones covering whole skyscrapers as well a flag on every vehicle. This fervour lasted a few weeks and then resolved. This pattern of behaviour is acceptable under those conditions, but to allow it in response to sporting events or commercial interests could result in unacceptable changes to our residential estates and our high streets.

Accordingly NORA accepts the recommended broadening of types of flags that do not require consent in Class H of Schedule 1 to the Control of Advertisements Regulations, but NORA objects to all the other proposals on the grounds that they run the risk of serious damage to the attractiveness of the urban environment. In particular the proposals lack any control of the flying of flags on listed buildings and in conservation areas, which is not acceptable.

The inclusion in the deemed consent group of the three types of flags - ‘Pride’ flag, award flags and Sports Clubs flags - is, in NORA’s opinion, unwise. NORA envisages a display of an unacceptable number of such flags especially football club flags in residential areas. This could not only damage the ambience of an area but also arouse unnecessary and avoidable conflict where sports rivalry exists.

NORA is also opposed to the removal of the condition obliging flags to be flown from vertical masts. To allow flags to be flown from horizontal flag staffs especially at ground and first floor levels could lead to hazard to passers-by in both residential and commercial streets. They may also interfere with the sight-lines of adjacent road traffic. The distinction between banners and flags will disappear to the detriment of the appearance of our streets.

The removal of the restriction on the size of lettering on advertising flags gives rise to concerns that this will lead to even larger flags, which would be unsightly and possibly hazardous to passing pedestrians and traffic. The need for this recommendation is not explained, and NORA does not consider it to be justified.

March 2012                                                Alan B Shrank - NORA chairman