Changes to the Use Classes Order come into effect today looking to aid town centres adapt in 2020 with all its many challenges. This new approach is looking to remove challenges and hurdles, all taking time and generating costs. The changes are to the Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. The motivation is to create flexibility in the use of commercial premises, particularly around the high street and within town and city centres which are feeling the effects of out of town shops and shopping online. Clearly the COVID-19 crisis has only compounded this further.
So from today Classes B1, A1-A5, D1 & D2 be replaced by:
- Class E – Commercial business & service
- Class F1 – Learning & non-residential
- Class F2 – Local community
The intention is to create flexibility to change and, offering mixed use opportunities without requiring a change of use planning consent.
The key change is the new Class E “Commercial, business and service”.
New Use Class E
Class E covers uses previous captured within various use classes. The following uses are now within Class E.
- Retail (was A1) (but excluding small local shops, see Class F2 below)
- Cafés & restaurants (was A3)
- Financial services (was A2)
- Professional services (was A2)
- Indoor sport & recreation (was D2)
- Medical or health services (was D1)
- Crèches, day nurseries or day centres (was D1)
- Offices (was B1a)
- Research & development (was B1b)
- Industrial processes (which can be carried out in a residential area) (was B1c)
- Any other services that are appropriate to provide in a commercial business or service locality (was A2)
The uses in Class E can generally be considered as appropriate uses within a town centre.
There is now also a ‘part use’, which allows a change use of part of a property to another use within Class E use, such as a shop with an integrated café, without the need to apply for planning permission.
New Use Class F
Class F1 (learning & non-residential institutions) combines the majority of the uses previously in the old Class D1 which are not in the new Use Class E.
- Displays of art
- Public halls
- Places of worship
- Law courts
The new Class F2 (‘Local community class’) includes the following:
- Local shops that are no larger than 280 square metres and in locations where there is no commercial class retail unit within one kilometre (was A1)
- Community halls (was D1)
- Outdoor leisure or sport venues (was D2)
- Indoor or outdoor swimming or skating rinks and swimming pools (was D2)
Uses in the previous Classes A4, A5 and D2 are considered as “sui generis”. (Uses which can’t change to a different use without formal planning consent.
Sui generis uses are now
- Pubs, wine bars (was A4)
- Drinking establishment with expanded food provision (was A4)
- Hot food takeaways (was A5)
- Live music venues (was. D2)
- Cinemas (was D2)
- Concert, bingo & dance halls (was D2)
These uses are considered key to local communities, so local authorities have a greater control over changes to or from these uses.
There are no changes to the existing use classes for residential (Class C), general industrial (Class B2), or storage and distribution (Class B8) use.
- Similarly, any use restrictions in an occupier’s lease will continue to apply. Although planning permission may not be required for a change of use, a landlord’s consent might be.
- The use classes amendments do not extend to deem permission for any works required to change use (such as shopfronts or layouts). Permission for these will still be required in the usual way.
The new use classes will come into effect from today and between 1 September 2020 to 31 July 2021 references to uses and use classes in the General Permitted Development Order which gives automatic planning permission for change of use between certain designated use classes) will remain.
We look forward to seeing how towns and cities evolve.