Radical changes to the Use Classes Order – What is the new Class E?

It has a been a busy few weeks in planning, and the government has just announced yet more planning reforms. You may be familiar with the Use Classes Order – it divides the ‘uses’ of land and property into different classes. Class A1 covers shops for example, and A3 restaurants. Offices come under B1, flats and houses are C3. Changes between the different classes sometimes require planning permission, sometimes don’t.

So what has changed?

The changes appear in the snapply titled The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020. You can read the full text here.

The changes amend the Use Classes Order 1987 and take effect on 1 September 2020.

Use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1 and D2 are to disappear altogether.

Use classes B2 (slightly amended) and B8 survive, as do all the C classes (C1, C2, C2A, C3 and C4).

The new Class E covers the following:
(a) for the display or retail sale of goods, other than hot food, principally to visiting members of the public [formerly A1],
(b) for the sale of food and drink principally to visiting members of the public where consumption of that food and drink is mostly undertaken on the premises [formerly A3],
(c) for the provision of the following kinds of services principally to visiting members of the public [all formerly within A2] —
(i) financial services,
(ii) professional services (other than health or medical services), or
(iii) any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality,
(d) for indoor sport, recreation or fitness, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms, principally to visiting members of the public [formerly within D2(e)].
(e) for the provision of medical or health services, principally to visiting members of the public, except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practitioner [formerly D1(a)],
f) for a crèche, day nursery or day centre, not including a residential use, principally to visiting members of the public [formerly D1(b)],
(g) for—
(i) an office to carry out any operational or administrative functions [formerly B1(a)],
(ii) the research and development of products or processes [formerly B1 (b)], or
(iii) any industrial process [formerly B1(c)],
– being a use [in all three cases, as in the former Class B1] 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.

There is a new Class F.1 (Learning and non-residential institutions) covering the following:

Any use not including residential use—
(a) for the provision of education [formerly D1(c)],
(b) for the display of works of art (otherwise than for sale or hire) [formerly D1(d)],
(c) as a museum [formerly D1(e)],
(d) as a public library or public reading room [formerly D1(f)],
(e) as a public hall or exhibition hall [formerly D1(g)],
(f) for, or in connection with, public worship or religious instruction [formerly D1(h)],
(g) as a law court [formerly D1(i)].

And a new Class F.2 (Local Community) covering:

Use as—
(a) a shop mostly selling essential goods, including food, to visiting members of the public in circumstances where—
(i) the shop’s premises cover an area not more than 280 metres square, and
(ii) there is no other such facility within 1000 metre radius of the shop’s location,
(b) a hall or meeting place for the principal use of the local community,
(c) an area or place for outdoor sport or recreation, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms [formerly within D2(e)],
(d) an indoor or outdoor swimming pool or skating rink [formerly within D2(e)]

It is also important to note that some uses are taken out of the classes and made ‘sui generis’. Changing the use of land to or from a sui generis use always requires planning permission. The new sui generis uses are:
(p) as a public house, wine bar, or drinking establishment [formerly A4],
(q) as a drinking establishment with expanded food provision [formerly A4/A3],
(r) as a hot food takeaway for the sale of hot food where consumption of that food is mostly undertaken off the premises [formerly A5] (s) as a venue for live music performance [formerly within D2s],
(t) a cinema [formerly D2(a)],
(u) a concert hall [formerly D2(b)],
(v) a bingo hall [formerly D2(c)],
(x) a dance hall [formerly D2(d)].

What is the point of all this? Essentially the new classes are larger, covering more ‘similar’ uses. You do not need permission to change between uses within the same use class. Currently you need consent to change a shop (A1) into a restaurant (A3) or an office (B1), a creche (D1) or a gym (D2). All of these uses now fall within Class E and one will be able to freely change between them. The intention of this is to create flexibility to allow vacant High Street shops to be brought back into use.

If you would like some site-specific advice on how these changes affect you and your property or how you might be able to take advantage of them, contact us at [email protected] for more information.

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