New Use Classes

Together we are Forbes


28 August, 2020

Helen Marsh

1 September 2020 marks a significant change in planning legislation, with the introduction of three new Use Classes to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. The changes aim to support high street revival by introducing flexibility to planning legislation in light of changing demands resulting from the pandemic. The new Use Classes can be found in Schedule 2 of the amended Use Classes Order. This article aims to provide you with the information you need to know in light of such changes.

What is the Use Classes Order?

The Use Classes Order groups land and buildings into different uses. Where the use of land and/or buildings changes to a new use within the same use class, this will not fall within the meaning of 'development' and therefore no planning permission will be required.

Planning Permission only becomes necessary once the proposed use no longer falls within the current use class.

The New Use Classes:

As mentioned above, three new Use Classes will be introduced on 1 September. This section provides a brief overview of each new Use Class and explains how this new Use Class aims to promote business flexibility.

  • Use Class E (Business and Commercial Services)

This new Use Class is extremely wide and covers retail, food, gyms, healthcare, nurseries, offices and even light industrial use. As planning permission is not required where there is a change of use falling within the same Use Class, business owners are provided with greater freedom to move between uses falling within this Use Class, enabling business owners to adapt quickly.

However, this New Use Class does not include pubs, bars or hot food takeaways. This is a purposeful exclusion intended to prevent struggling shops changing into pubs and takeaways without prior planning permission as this may result in a surge of these uses. Consequently, pubs can no longer change to a mixed-use pub/restaurant without planning permission under the new planning legislation.

  • Use Class F1 (Learning and Non-Residential Institutions)

This new Use Class incorporates some uses from the former Use Class D1 (non-residential institutions) with some uses from the former D2 Use Class (assembly and leisure). By incorporating the two together, property owners can freely move from a non-residential institution to a leisure use which promotes learning such as libraries, schools and art galleries. Whilst such uses maintain learning, they are more likely to be open to the wider public and perhaps increase revenue in a time of economic uncertainty.

  • Use Class F2 (Local Community)

Similarly, Use Class F2 incorporates some non-residential institutions (former Use Class D1) with assembly and leisure uses (former Use Class D2). However, this new Use Class is restricted to activities of a physical nature such as swimming pools and areas for outdoor sports. As depicted in the title, this Use Class also includes buildings which are widely used by the local community. Use Class F2 is perhaps wider than Use Class F1 as it also includes shops which serve the essential needs of local communities i.e. food supplies where there is no commercial unit within 1,000 metres and the shop is not larger than 280 m². An important distinction can be made here between corner shops which may fall into this category providing the above criteria is satisfied and retail shops which are found on the high street which would fall within the commercial class (Use Class E).

Unchanged Use Classes:

Despite the important changes coming into effect on 1 September, a number of existing Use Classes remain unchanged, such as:

  • general industrial (Use Class B2);
  • storage and distribution (Use Class B8);
  • hotels (Use Class C1);
  • residential institutions (Use Class C2);
  • dwelling houses (Use Class C3);
  • small houses in multiple occupation (Use Class C4); and
  • Sui Generis Use Class i.e. a use class of its own (though houses in multiple occupation with more than 6 residents are now included within this Use Class).

Please note this article is not legal advice, you would need to speak to a Solicitor to seek planning advice before taking any action.

For more information contact Helen Marsh in our Commercial Property department via email or phone on 0333 207 4236. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Commercial Property department here

The Late Payment Plague

Brexit: Preparing for the end of the transition period

Contact Us

Get in touch to see how our experts could help you.

Call0800 689 3206

CallRequest a call back

EmailSend us an email

Contacting Us

Monday to Friday:
09:00 to 17:00

Saturday and Sunday: