Update to the Use Classes Order: Planning laws
- AuthorJeevie Sandhu
On 1st September 2020 The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 brought in significant changes to the planning use classes.
What are the planning use classes?
They categorise the different uses of property in England. Planning permission is required where the property's proposed use is different to the class it holds.
What are the changes?
The following new classes have been created:
Class E - an intentionally wide class which covers offices, retail, some food and drink businesses, healthcare, service uses and more;
Class F.1 - covers learning and non-residential institutions (e.g. schools, art galleries and libraries); and
Class F.2 - covers local community and includes community halls, small local shops and sport facilities.
Other uses have been re-categorised under the separate, distinct use class "sui generis" preventing an easy change of use for such properties.
Permitted development rights allow for changes of use from one class to another without planning permission as such. For this to happen, the Local Planning Authority would need to sign this off. There will be no changes to these rights until 31st July 2021.
Please see the table below which shows a brief overview of the change in classes:
Use class prior to 1st September 2020
Use class after 1st September 2020
Financial and professional services
Food and Drink - Café or restaurant (mainly on the premises)
Business, other than those within class A2
Non-residential institutions (medical or health services, nurseries etc)
Assembly and Leisure (indoor recreation, sports facilities and gyms)
Non-residential institutions (education, art gallery, museum, public exhibition hall, public library, places of worship and law courts)
Local community - Shop no larger than 280sqm (selling mostly essential goods and at least 1km from another similar shop), community hall, community swimming pools and ice skating rinks
Pub, bar, any drinking establishment
Hot Food Takeaway
Cinema, Concert Hall, Bingo Hall, Dance Hall, Live music venue
Why were changes made?
- To protect public places such as cinemas and pubs by classifying them as "sui generis". This means that before their use can be changed, planning permission would need to be obtained.
- To provide greater flexibility for certain businesses to switch between uses without having to obtain planning permission. It is anticipated that this will reduce the number of planning applications.
What does this mean for you and your business?
If your property's use now falls under class E, you will benefit from a wider class and have more flexibility as to what you wish to use the property for.
Conversely, some properties may be restricted by this recent development. For example, pubs, cinemas, and takeaways will not benefit from this amendment and must still obtain planning permission in the usual way if wanting to change the use.
If you are looking for a lawyer to investigate your planning queries, please contact our Commercial Property Team for more information.