Changes to Use Classes Affecting Offices, Shops, Restaurants, Pubs and Takeaways in England

August 2020

From 1 September major changes will be made to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. These changes apply to England only. Commercial property owners and developers should take note of these changes as they may affect, either positively or negatively, your ability to change the use of your property.

Changes to the current use classes

The Use Classes Order will continue to apply in its current form to properties in Wales. However, significant changes are being made to the regime in England. As the Property document portfolio focuses largely on offices, shops and industrial premises, our landlord customers will be particularly interested in the use classes below and their new equivalents:

• Class A1 (shops) is revoked and replaced with Class E(a).
• Class A2 (financial and professional services) is revoked and replaced with Class E(c).
• Class A3 (restaurants and cafes) is revoked and replaced with Class E(b).
• Class A4 (pubs, wine bars or other drinking establishments) is revoked and no equivalent use class will exist. Instead this use becomes “sui generis”, meaning that a specific planning permission is required to change to and from this use.
• Class A5 (hot food takeaways) is also revoked and becomes sui generis.
• Class B1(a), (b) & (c) (offices, research and light industry) are revoked and replaced with Class E(g).
• Class B2 (general industrial uses) remains.
• Class B8 – (storage and distribution) remains.
• Class D2 (assembly and leisure) is revoked. Some of its uses become sui generis, including cinemas and live music venues, others are moved to Class E(d) (indoor sport) or F2 (local community uses).

New use classes E and F2

New Class E covers shops and restaurants (previously A1 and A3), financial and professional services (previously A2), offices, research and light industry (previously B1), indoor sports uses (previously D2) and medical services, nurseries and day centres (previously D1). This is significant because changes within a use class may be made freely and do not require planning consent.

New Class F2 is for local community uses and includes four quite different uses: small shops (under 280 square metres, where there is no other such facility within 1km), community halls, outdoor sports facilities and indoor or outdoor swimming pools and skating rinks. The idea is apparently to protect these facilities by limiting the scope for a change of use.

Changes of use

Landlords and developers should note that, until 31 July 2021, the old use classes will apply for the purposes of Permitted Development rights (i.e. changes between use classes allowed under the General Permitted Development Order).

Leases

The lease templates have been updated to include, for properties in England, references to the new use classes. The updated templates should be used for new lettings from 1 September. No action is required in the case of existing leases. When granting leases, landlords should consider whether they wish to stipulate a wide “permitted use”, e.g. “use within class E” or a more specific use, e.g. “as a shop”.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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