Amendments to the Use Classes Order - July 2020

The new legislation abolishes Classes “A” (shop type) and “D” (institutions). Three new uses classes have been created:

  • Class E: Amalgamating Class A1 (shops), A2 (professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafes), B1 (offices), parts of D1 (non-residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure).
  • Class F1: Comprising the remaining uses in D1 including education, non-commercial galleries, museums, libraries, public halls, places of worship and law courts.
  • Class F2: Creating a new community use class including small corner shops (selling essentials of less than 280sqm over 1km from the nearest similar shop), local community halls, swimming pools and outdoor recreation areas.

A wide range of uses fall within the new Class E. The change in legislation means that moving between these uses will no longer require planning permission.

Planning permission may still be required for plant equipment involving external alterations, although the previous requirement to demonstrate suitable extraction facilities for A3 (restaurant and café) uses is no longer relevant.

It is explicit in the legislation that existing buildings or land currently in A1, A2, A3 or B1 use will automatically transition to Class E on 1 September 2020. It would appear that the remaining uses will also revert to the new Use Classes on the same date, however, further clarification from the Government may be required on this point. 

New Sui Generis uses, which previously formed part of Class “A” and “D” uses, will include the following:

  • Pubs, wine bars and drinking establishments;
  • Pubs with expanded food provision;
  • Hot food takeaways;
  • Live music venues;
  • Cinemas;
  • Concert Hall;
  • Bingo Hall; and
  • Dance Halls (excluding nightclub).

Planning permission will now be required to move between these uses, including the movement between “pub” to “pub with food” as these form separate Sui Generis uses.

Local Planning Authorities are likely to restrict flexibility within Class E on new planning permissions from now on. In terms of existing uses, there is no obvious alternative way in which Council can exert control. An Article 4 Direction (removal of permitted development rights) requires the change to be deemed development, which in the case it will not be.

The concept of “part use” has been introduced. This implies that the change of use of part of an existing wider building, use or planning unit to an alternative Class E use would not require planning permission.

Below is Class E fully reproduced and the relevant “old” uses classes highlighted in bold.

Class E: Commercial, Business and Service

Use, or part use, for all or any of the following purposes:

  • for the display or retail sale of goods, other than hot food, principally to visiting members of the public

(previously Class A1 – shops)

  • For the sale of food and drink principally to visiting members of the public where consumption of that food and drink is mostly undertaken on the premises

(previously Class A3 – restaurants and café)

  • For the provision of all the following kinds of services:
  1. Financial services

(previously part of Class A2 – financial and professional services)

  1. Professional services (other than health or medical services)

(previously part of Class A2 – financial and professional services)

  1. Any other services which is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality.

(thought to cover uses such as post offices and travel agencies previously part of Class A1)

  • For indoor sport, recreation or fitness, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms, principally to visiting members of the public

(previously part of Class D2 – assembly and leisure).

  • For the provision of medical or health services, principally to visiting members of the public, except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practitioner (previously part of Class D1 – non-residential institutions).  
  • For a creche, day nursery or day centre, not including a residential use, principally to visiting members of the public.

(previously part of Class D1 – non-residential institutions)

  • For:
  1. An office to carry out any operational or administrative functions

(previously B1(a) – offices although oddly phrased and therefore may require further clarification from the Government)

  1. The research and development of products or processes

(previously B1(b)- research and the development of products and processes)

  1. Any industrial process, being a use, which can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit (previously part of Class B1(c) and B2).