Different uses of commercial property
What is the permitted use?
All commercial land and buildings have a particular “permitted use”. This
can mean a use permitted by the lease. It can also refer to the use
permitted under planning law. The lease often makes reference to the
categories of use set out in planning legislation so it makes sense to
consider permitted planning uses first.
Planning law – use classes
The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) sets
out various classes of use. Particular classes to note are:
• Class A1 – shops
• Class A2 - financial and professional services for visiting members of
• Class A3 – premises where food is sold and consumed on the premises
• Class A4 – pubs, wine bars or other drinking establishments
• Class A5 – sale of hot food for consumption off the premises
• Class B1(a) – offices
• Class B1(b) – research and development uses
• Class B1(c) – light industry suitable to a residential area
• Class B2 – other industrial uses
• Class B8 – wholesale warehouses, distribution centres and repositories
• Class D2 – sport and leisure.
There are rules about changing from one use class to another – sometimes
planning permission is required, sometimes a change can be made without
planning permission. The rules are considered in more detail in the
Permitted use clauses in leases
Permitted use clauses (sometimes called user clauses) in leases often make
reference to the classes of use in the Use Classes Order. A lease may
define the permitted use broadly, for example, “any use with class A1”.
Alternatively, a lease may specify a very particular use, for example, “as
a post office”, and require the landlord’s written consent to any other