Are you up to date with the new use classes?

Since its introduction, the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 has dictated the use classes for properties in England.

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Are you up to date with the new use classes?

Since its introduction, the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 has dictated the use classes for properties in England, with changes for certain uses being permitted without the need to inform the local authority and with other changes requiring planning permission. However, from the 1st of September 2020, use classes for properties in England were varied by the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020, which could have significant impacts for businesses.

The main changes are:

Class A Class A, which included uses such as shops (A1), financial services (A2), restaurants and cafes (A3), drinking establishments (A4) and hot food takeaways (A5), has been revoked in its entirety, with each of these uses now falling within other use classes.

Class B Class B1 (business), which encompassed offices and general business was, as a result, perhaps one of the most well-recognised use classes. It has been removed and going forwards will form part of use class E Use Classes B2 (general industry) and B8 (storage and distribution) remain unchanged.

Class D Former use class D1 (non-residential institutions such as health centres, schools and museums) has been divided between new use classes E and F, whilst former use class D2 (assembly and leisure such as cinemas, gymnasiums and concert halls) has been now falls into new classes E and F, and also Sui Generis.

Class E Class E is a new use class which seeks to amalgamate previous use classes A1 (shops), A2 (financial services), A3 (restaurants and cafes), B1 (business), part of D1 (which includes non-residential Institutions such as clinics, health centres, nurseries, museums, libraries and churches) and part of D2 ( which includes assembly and leisure centres, such as gymnasiums).

Class F New class F will comprise F1 (learning and institution, which will encompass uses such as the provision of education, museums and courts) and F2 (local community, which will include small, essential shops, community halls and recreational areas).

Sui Generis Sui Generis remains, by definition, a “class of its own”, and includes those uses which are not encompassed in the new and remaining classes B to F. Existing uses falling into this category include fuel stations, laundrettes and taxi businesses. However, the removal of use classes such as A4 (drinking establishments), A5 (hot food takeaways) and part of class D2 (such as cinemas and bingo halls), will see these uses now forming part of the Sui Generis use class.

These changes are significant and will inevitably initially cause confusion amongst agents and businesses. Confusingly, for example, a shop, depending on its nature and size could now fall into Class E or Class F. Amendments to the use classes also bring with them changes to rules for changes of use, although it is important to note that these will not come into effect until July 2021. It is therefore important that advice is taken before the purchase of a new property, a change of use or the grant of a new Lease after July 2021 to understand the implications.

It is important to note, however, that these changes are currently subject to challenge. A non-governmental campaign organisation, Rights: Community: Action Ltd, have sought to quash these new provisions, and if successful, the previous Use Classes could effectively be reinstated.

If you have any questions about the topics mentioned above, please email Hollie Hemmens on or call 0114 290 6337

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