Greenwich eatery told to remove U.K. flag mural due to lack of permission, not the content

By: Azra Ali
March 26 2024

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Greenwich eatery told to remove U.K. flag mural due to lack of permission, not the content

Screenshots of the viral posts.(Source: X/Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Misleading

Research shows the store had not sought prior permission to put up the Union Jack mural in a conservation area, as mandated by the local council.

Claim ID 6c74fa0f

What is the claim?

A popular eatery in Southeast London called 'The Golden Chippy' has been in the news after the local council ordered it to remove the mural on one of its walls. The mural featured a humanoid fish holding the U.K. flag and a slogan that read, "A Great British Meal." 

A Facebook user shared a photo of the eatery's owner standing before the mural, with a caption, "He's been ordered to paint over the Union Flag mural. These are the Greenwich Council leaders, so that's why ! Britain is finished (sic)…" The post further alleged that Palestinian flags "supporting terrorism" are allowed over London. It also contained pictures of Greenwich Council leaders Anthony Okereke, Averil Lekau, and Adel Khaireh. Archived version of the post and similar other claims can be viewed here, here, and here. Some of these claims include a screenshot of an article by The Telegraph reporting on the Greenwich Council order.

Screenshots of the viral posts.((Source: X/Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)

While social media claims imply that the council ordered the removal of the mural because of its content, the order for removing it came because the prerequisite permissions for the mural were not secured. 

How did we verify this?

We first accessed the original article by The Telegraph and found that the daily had reported that the eatery's owner, Chris Kanizi, was ordered by the council officials to remove the mural as it was located in a "19th-century conservation area." The Telegraph report also quoted a spokesperson from the Greenwich Council who said that the civic body had received several complaints that the mural was an "unauthorized advert for the chip shop." 

According to the council's website, a conservation area is marked by local planning authorities to protect "an area's special character and appearance." These areas are subject to planning controls and permissions, including minor alterations.

After controversy over the mural, the local council, the Royal Borough of Greenwich, issued an official statement on March 18, which said, "Whilst it's not always appropriate to comment on individual cases, contrary to reports this has nothing to do with the Union Flag or any of the painting's contents. The advert has been painted, without any permission, in a conservation area, close to a World Heritage Site. The Council is acting according to Government planning laws, as it would with any unauthorised advert."

Now, Golden Chippy is located in Greenwich Town Centre, which falls under Maritime Greenwich, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We geolocated the eatery in question to Greenwich Town Centre using Google Maps, and further research showed us that Maritime Greenwich was termed a World Heritage Site in 1997, owing to its unique architecture, designed landscape, and association with the British monarchy over the centuries.

The permissions required in such cases

According to the official website of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, any major modifications to the buildings in conservation areas require prior consent from the body to ensure the original features of the heritage areas are preserved. The guidelines also state that "Planning permission is required for any material alteration to the exterior appearance of a shop. This could include changing materials, installing blinds, and security grilles, or changing the size of the windows, etc. Advertisement consent is required to display most signs."

Applications for such changes need to be submitted to the council website. We found that the store now in question, The Golden Chippy, had submitted applications for modifications like this in the past as well. In 2017, we found that the eatery had sought approval to install an "externally illuminated wall sign," which was eventually rejected by the council in 2020.

However, we did not find any application by the outlet for the Union Jack mural on the website, indicating that official prior permission was not sought.

The verdict

The lack of prior permission was why the Greenwich Council ordered the removal of the Union Jack mural at The Golden Chippy. The contents of the mural had nothing to do with this order. Therefore, we mark this claim as misleading.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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