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Planning uses - find the use class for your property here, and information about changing to another use class

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Use this guide to find which Use Class your property is in and whether planning permission is required to change to a different Use Class.

 

Use Classes

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as 'Use Classes'.  It was most recently amended following the 2015 Use Classes Amendment Order.

The following list gives an indication of the types of use which may fall within each use class. Please note that this is a guide only and it's for local planning authorities to determine, in the first instance, depending on the individual circumstances of each case, which use class a particular use falls into.

 

 

 Table summarising Planning Use Classes in the UK

Planning Use

Description

A1 Shops

Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices (but not sorting offices), pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes.

A2 Financial and professional services

Financial services such as banks and building societies, professional services (other than health and medical services) including estate and employment agencies and betting offices.

A3 Restaurants and cafés

For the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises - restaurants, snack bars and cafes.

A4 Drinking establishments

Public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments (but not night clubs).

A5 Hot food takeaways

For the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises.

B1 Business

Offices (other than those that fall within A2), research and development of products and processes, light industry appropriate in a residential area.

B2 General industrial

Use for industrial process other than one falling within class B1 (excluding incineration purposes, chemical treatment or landfill or hazardous waste).

B8 Storage or distribution

This class includes open air storage.

C1 Hotels

Hotels, boarding and guest houses where no significant element of care is provided (excludes hostels).

C2 Residential institutions

Residential care homes, hospitals, nursing homes, boarding schools, residential colleges and training centres.

C2A Secure Residential Institution

Use for a provision of secure residential accommodation, including use as a prison, young offenders institution, detention centre, secure training centre, custody centre, short term holding centre, secure hospital, secure local authority accommodation or use as a military barracks.

C3 Dwellinghouses -this class is formed of 3 parts:

 

  • C3(a) covers use by a single person or a family (a couple whether married or not, a person related to one another with members of the family of one of the couple to be treated as members of the family of the other), an employer and certain domestic employees (such as an au pair, nanny, nurse, governess, servant, chauffeur, gardener, secretary and personal assistant), a carer and the person receiving the care and a foster parent and foster child.
  • C3(b): up to six people living together as a single household and receiving care e.g. supported housing schemes such as those for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems.
  • C3(c) allows for groups of people (up to six) living together as a single household. This allows for those groupings that do not fall within the C4 HMO definition, but which fell within the previous C3 use class, to be provided for i.e. a small religious community may fall into this section as could a homeowner who is living with a lodger.

C4 Houses in multiple occupation

Small shared dwelling houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their only or main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.

D1 Non-residential institutions

Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Non residential education and training centres.

D2 Assembly and leisure

Cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or area for indoor or outdoor sports and recreations (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used).

Sui Generis

Certain uses do not fall within any use class and are considered 'sui generis'. Such uses include: theatres, houses in multiple occupation, hostels providing no significant element of care, scrap yards. Petrol filling stations and shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles. Retail warehouse clubs, nightclubs, launderettes, taxi businesses, amusement centres and casinos.

Before you negotiate a lease or buy a property for your business, check whether you need to obtain planning permission for your intended use, and, if so, your chances of getting it.

Changes of use not requiring planning permission

In many cases involving similar types of use, a change of use of a building or land does not need planning permission. Planning permission is not needed when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same ‘class’, or if the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order says that a change of class is permitted to another specified class (see table below).

For example, a greengrocer’s shop could be changed to a shoe shop without permission as these uses fall within the same ‘class’, and a restaurant could be changed to a shop or a estate agency as the Use Class Order allows this type of change to occur without requiring planning permission.

Most external building work associated with a change of use is likely to require planning permission.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015

Table summarising permitted changes in Planning Use Classes in the UK

From..................................................>>>>>>>

Permitted change (without planning permission) to:

A1 (shops)

if the premises were in A1 use at 5th December 2013:

A2

A3 subject to Prior Approval (up to 150 sq m)

D2 subject to Prior Approval (up to 200 sq m)

C3 Residential if the cumulative floorspace of the building is under 150 sq m and subject to Prior Approval

A2 (professional and financial services) when premises have a display window at ground level

if the premises were in A2 use at 5th December 2013:

A1

A3 subject to Prior Approval (up to 150 sq m)

D2 subject to Prior Approval (up to 200 sq m)

C3 Residential if the cumulative floorspace of the building is under 150 sq m and subject to Prior Approval

A3 (restaurants and cafes)

A1 or A2

A4 (drinking establishments)

A1 or A2 or A3

A5 (hot food takeaways)

A1 or A2 or A3

B1 (business)

B8 (storage and distribution), up to 500 sq m

New from Spring 2013:

Premises in B1(a) office use can change to C3 residential use, subject to Prior Approval covering flooding, highways and transport issues and contamination.

The property has to have been either in use as an office before 30th May 2013 or if vacant at that date have been last used as an office.

NB:  on 12th October 2015 the Government announced that it intends to make permanent the permitted development right to change from office use to residential use.  This means that the previous deadline that the C3 residential use must begin by 30th May 2016 has now been superceded.

B2 (general industrial)

B1 (business)

B2 (general industrial)

B8 (storage and distribution) up to 500 sq m

B8 (storage and distribution)

B1 (business) up to 500 sq m

New from Spring 2015:

Premises of up to 500 sq m in B8 use can change to C3 residential use, subject to various criteria being met and Prior Approval covering flooding, highways and transport issues and contamination.

NB:  the C3 residential use must begin by 15th April 2018 - this means that any conversion works need to have been completed by then.

C4 (houses in multiple occupation)

C3 (dwellinghouses)

Casinos and amusement arcades / centres (sui generis)

D2 (assembly and leisure)

A3 subject to Prior Approval and only if the existing building is under 150 sq m

C3 Residential if the cumulative floorspace of the building is under 150 sq m and subject to Prior Approval

Betting shops and pay day loan shops (sui generis)

A1 or A2

C3 Residential if the cumulative floorspace of the building is under 150 sq m and subject to Prior Approval

Agricultural buildings (sui generis)

A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1, C3, D2 subject to meeting relevant criteria and Prior Approval

 

Changes of use requiring a planning application

Other than for the permitted changes of use listed above and changes where both uses fall within the same use class, planning permission is generally required for a material change of use.

Most external building work associated with a change of use is likely to require planning permission.

Certificate of Lawful Use

If a property can be demonstrated to have been in residential use for a minimum period of four years it may be possible to obtain a Certificate of Lawful use which will confirm the property effectively has planning permission for that use.

For commercial properties, the period of time is ten years.

Important Note

The above summary is based on information at www.planningportal.gov.ukand should not be relied on for legal purposes:  specific advice should be sought from a planning expert (who Gilmartin Ley can recommend).  No liability is accepted by Gilmartin Ley for the information in this article.

Further Advice on Planning Matters

If you require advice on planning matters please contact Gilmartin Ley on 020 8882 0111 and we will be pleased to refer you to one of our planning consultants.


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