The most radical change to the planning use classes system in a generation

16th September 2020

Commercial Premises Use Classes – A change to the Regulations

From 1st September, new regulations took effect for use classes for commercial premises in England. This is an amendment to the 1987 Use Classes order and is designed to provide businesses and commercial property owners with more flexibility to change the use of their premises without the need for a formal planning application for a change of use. In challenging times where businesses need to adapt quickly to the economy and new market opportunities, the amendments have been widely welcomed by the business community. The sentiment behind the changes is to help revive the high street and avoid empty shops and buildings, and the new Change of Use regulations sit in tandem with recent changes to permitted development rights as part of the Government’s “Project Speed”.

Steven Harvey, our Commercial Director comments: 

“This is a significant step forwards in simplifying the planning process for many different types of business in the UK and our area of coverage across Sussex. We have been helping and advising clients on the implications of the changes and have already seen the positive impact with a PT studio opening within a new waterside  “office “ development at the Hove Enterprise Centre. Formerly they would have required a change of use from B1 to D2 . We see this as a positive change and one which will help the high street adapt and evolve more quickly than would have been possible previously.”

What are the new Commercial Premises Use Classes in England?

Class E – Commercial, Business and Service (replacing A1, 2, 3 - B1a, b, c, Some D1 &D2 uses)
This is a broad category and will suit many different business sizes and industries. The class includes retail, restaurant, offices, financial services, gyms, medical and nursery uses and “any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality”.  Some business types in this category would have previously required a change of use which historically has been very difficult to achieve.

Class F.1 – Learning and non-residential institutions (replaces D1)
This category will cover education & training centres, schools, religious buildings, museums, art galleries, exhibition halls and libraries.

Class F.2 – Local community (Replaces some D2)

Local community uses are typically community buildings such as halls, outdoor sport areas, swimming pools or skating rinks of any size.

In addition, this category seeks to protect specific retail outlets serving the local community. To fit within this category the retail space should be no more than 280m² and should be deemed to sell “essential goods” (food, dry household items) and should also not be closer than 1km to another commercial class retail unit. Rather than being restrictive though, the “Local Community” use is designed to protect small local shops in suburban and semi-rural areas without access to alternative amenities.

Sui Generis – In essence anything that cannot be defined into one of the other categories.

Pubs, bars and hot food takeaways ( formerly A5) all now fall into this category and thus would require a change of use to be used for any alternative use. 

Some original use Classes remain unaffected

Classes Unaffected

B2- Industrial uses not suitable in a residential area

B8- Storage /Distribution

C1 -Hotels /Guest Houses

C2- Residential Institutions

C3- Dwelling Houses

C4- HMO’s

If you are keen to explore the options available to you as a result of the changes, our commercial team may be able to assist you. Contact us to find out more.


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