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The uses for which land and building are to be put in England is strictly controlled. If you intend to change the use of a property you may need planning permission from your local authority, particularly of the new use falls outside its existing designated class. Below is a guide which will give you an indication of the uses which fall into each use class.

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as “Use Classes”. These categories give an indication of the types of use which may fall within each Use Class. There are four main categories:

– Class A covers shops and other retail premises such as restaurants and bank branches;
– Class B covers offices, workshops, factories and warehouses;
– Class C covers residential uses; and
– Class D covers non-residential institutions and assembly and leisure uses.

Another regulation, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (SI 418) grants permitted development rights. These are a right to make changes to a building without the need to apply for planning permission.

Under this order planning permission is not needed for changes of use of buildings within each class and for some changes of use between the classes.

In August 2013 the Government published a consultation proposing new permitted development rights:

1 – to allow shops to be converted into homes; existing agricultural buildings to be converted into homes; shops to be converted into banks and building societies;
2 – for certain buildings to change to nurseries providing childcare;
3 – for agricultural buildings to change to schools and nurseries.

The above changes came into force on 6 April 2014.

Further consultation on more change of use to allow warehouses and light industry buildings to convert into homes was announced in Budget 2014.

Some permitted development rights for change of use have attracted controversy. MPs have called for tighter restriction on change of use to betting and payday loan shops. There are campaigns for more restrictions on when pubs can be changed into residential housing and supermarkets. Health campaigners have called for restrictions on the number of fast food outlets on high streets, particularly those near to schools.

This information relates primarily to England and is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or case. It should not be relied upon as being up to date as the law and government policies change; and it should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice or as a substitute for it. A suitably qualified professional should be consulted if specific advice or information is required.

For more information see:

The Use Classes

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as ‘Use Classes’.
This list gives an indication of the types of uses in each use class, but this is only a guide: it is for local planning authorities to determine, given the circumstances of each case, which use class a particular use comes under:

Class A1. Shops
Use for all or any of the following purposes—
(a)for the retail sale of goods other than hot food,
(b)as a post office,
(c)for the sale of tickets or as a travel agency,
(d)for the sale of sandwiches or other cold food for consumption off the premises,
(e)for hairdressing,
(f)for the direction of funerals,
(g)for the display of goods for sale,
(h)for the hiring out of domestic or personal goods or articles,
(i)for the reception of goods to be washed, cleaned or repaired,
where the sale, display or service is to visiting members of the public.

Class A2. Financial and professional services
Use for the provision of —
(a)financial services, or
(b)professional services (other than health or medical services), or
(c)any other services (including use as a betting office) which it is appropriate to provide in a shopping area, where the services are provided principally to visiting members of the public.

Class A3. Food and drink
Use for the sale of food or drink for consumption on the premises or of hot food for consumption off the premises.

Class B1. Business
Use for all or any of the following purposes—
(a)as an office other than a use within class A2 (financial and professional services),
(b)for research and development of products or processes, or
(c)for 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.

Class B2. General industrial
Use for the carrying on of an industrial process other than one falling within class B1 above or within classes B3 to B7 below.

Class B3. Special Industrial Group A
Use for any work registerable under the Alkali, etc. Works Regulation Act 1906(1)(a) and which is not included in any of classes B4 to B7 below.

Class B4. Special Industrial Group B
Use for any of the following processes, except where the process is ancillary to the getting, dressing or treatment of minerals and is carried on in or adjacent to a quarry or mine:—
(a)smelting, calcining, sintering or reducing ores, minerals, concentrates or mattes;
(b)converting, refining, re-heating, annealing, hardening, melting, carburising, forging or casting metals or alloys other than pressure die-casting;
(c)recovering metal from scrap or drosses or ashes;
(e)pickling or treating metal in acid;
(f)chromium plating.

Class B5. Special Industrial Group C
Use for any of the following processes, except where the process is ancillary to the getting, dressing or treatment of minerals and is carried on in or adjacent to a quarry or mine:—
(a)burning bricks or pipes;
(b)burning lime or dolomite;
(c)producing zinc oxide, cement or alumina;
(d)foaming, crushing, screening or heating minerals or slag;
(e)processing pulverized fuel ash by heat;
(f)producing carbonate of lime or hydrated lime;
(g)producing inorganic pigments by calcining, roasting or grinding.

Class B6. Special Industrial Group D
Use for any of the following processes:—
(a)distilling, refining or blending oils (other than petroleum or petroleum products);
(b)producing or using cellulose or using other pressure sprayed metal finishes (other than in vehicle repair workshops in connection with minor repairs, or the application of plastic powder by the use of fluidised bed and electrostatic spray techniques);
(c)boiling linseed oil or running gum;
(d)processes involving the use of hot pitch or bitumen (except the use of bitumen in the manufacture of roofing felt at temperatures not exceeding 220°C and also the manufacture of coated roadstone);
(e)stoving enamelled ware;
(f)producing aliphatic esters of the lower fatty acids, butyric acid, caramel, hexamine, iodoform, napthols, resin products (excluding plastic moulding or extrusion operations and producing plastic sheets, rods, tubes, filaments, fibres or optical components produced by casting, calendering, moulding, shaping or extrusion), salicylic acid or sulphonated organic compounds;
(g)producing rubber from scrap;
(h)chemical processes in which chlorphenols or chlorcresols are used as intermediates;
(i)manufacturing acetylene from calcium carbide;
(j)manufacturing, recovering or using pyridine or picolines, any methyl or ethyl amine or acrylates.

Class B7. Special Industrial Group E
Use for carrying on any of the following industries, businesses or trades:—
Boiling blood, chitterlings, nettlings or soap.
Boiling, burning, grinding or steaming bones.
Boiling or cleaning tripe.
Breeding maggots from putrescible animal matter.
Cleaning, adapting or treating animal hair.
Curing fish.
Dealing in rags and bones (including receiving, storing, sorting or manipulating rags in, or likely to become in, an offensive condition, or any bones, rabbit skins, fat or putrescible animal products of a similar nature).
Dressing or scraping fish skins.
Drying skins.
Making manure from bones, fish, offal, blood, spent hops, beans or other putrescible animal or vegetable matter.
Making or scraping guts.
Manufacturing animal charcoal, blood albumen, candles, catgut, glue, fish oil, size or feeding stuff for animals or poultry from meat, fish, blood, bone, feathers, fat or animal offal either in an offensive condition or subjected to any process causing noxious or injurious effluvia.
Melting, refining or extracting fat or tallow.
Preparing skins for working.

Class B8. Storage or distribution
Use for storage or as a distribution centre.

Class C1. Hotels and hostels
Use as a hotel, boarding or guest house or as a hostel where, in each case, no significant element of care is provided.

Class C2. Residential institutions
Use for the provision of residential accommodation and care to people in need of care (other than a use within class C3 (dwelling houses)).
Use as a hospital or nursing home.
Use as a residential school, college or training centre.

Class C3. Dwellinghouses
Use as a dwellinghouse (whether or not as a sole or main residence) —
(a)by a single person or by people living together as a family, or
(b)by not more than 6 residents living together as a single household (including a household where care is provided for residents).

Class D1. Non-residential institutions
Any use not including a residential use —
(a)for the provision of any medical or health services except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practioner,
(b)as a crêche, day nursery or day centre,
(c)for the provision of education,
(d)for the display of works of art (otherwise than for sale or hire),
(e)as a museum,
(f)as a public library or public reading room,
(g)as a public hall or exhibition hall,
(h)for, or in connection with, public worship or religious instruction.

Class D2. Assembly and leisure
Use as —
(a)a cinema,
(b)a concert hall,
(c)a bingo hall or casino,
(d)a dance hall,
(e)a swimming bath, skating rink, gymnasium or area for other indoor or outdoor sports or recreations, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms.

In some cases involving similar types of use, a change of use of a property does not need planning permission.

Planning permission is not normally needed when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same ‘class’, or if the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order says that a change of class is permitted to another specified class. Most external building work associated with a change of use is likely to require planning permission.

Always consult with the local authority planning department concerned before making any commitments or taking action involving property which may require a change of use.

More information: The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987

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©LandlordZONE All Rights Reserved – never rely totally on these general guidelines which apply primarily to England and Wales. They are not definitive statements of the law. Before taking action or not, always do your own research and/or seek professional advice with the full facts of your case and all documents to hand.

Please Note: This Article is 8 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


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