• Tyler Parkes

All Change - Use Classes

The Government has made significant changes to the Use Classes, as applying in England only, that come into force 1st September 2020. The changes (and our thoughts on these) are summarised below:


Class A – The use classes generally associated with ‘town centres’ has been revoked in its entirety and the former uses moved to other classes.


The key effect is that certain uses are now acceptable in principle within ‘commercial centres’ (the new Class E) whereas other, potentially nuisance uses such as public houses and hot food takeaways are now sui-generis and will require planning permission.



Class B – Sub-Class B1 (Business, i.e. offices, research and development and industrial processes acceptable in residential areas) has effectively been moved to the new Class E; Class B2 (General Industry) has been modified to the carrying on of an industrial process other than one falling within the uses described in Class E (sub-paragraph g); and B8 (Storage and Distribution) remains unchanged.


Similarly, the key effect is that certain uses are acceptable in principle within ‘commercial centres’ (the new Class E) and that the range of industrial uses includes both former B1 light industrial use and some B2 general industrial uses where meet criteria.



Class C – The ‘residential’ uses comprising: C1 (hotels), C2 (residential institutions), C2A (secure residential institutions), C3 (dwellinghouses) and C4 (houses in multiple occupation – 3-6 residents) remain unchanged.


No change here



Class D – The use classes generally associated with non-residential institutions and assembly and leisure has been revoked in its entirely and former uses moved to other classes.


The key effect is the reshuffle and definition of uses, with the majority moving to the new Local Community and Learning (the new Classes F.1 and F.2), but some uses, including health centres, day nurseries, day centres and indoor sports being acceptable in principle within the ‘commercial centres’ (the new Class E). However, those uses that could potentially cause a nuisance, e.g. cinemas, concert halls, bingo halls etc. to be classified as sui-generis and requiring planning permission.



New Class E (Commercial, Business and Service) – This new class effectively incorporates the former Class A1 (Retail, albeit see exception in Class F.2 below), Class A2 (Financial and Professional Services), Class A3 (Restaurant and Cafes) and Class B1 (Business); however, these are specifically stated as services where principally provided to visiting members of the public and listed as:

o (a) Display or retail sale of goods (other than hot food);

o (b) Sale of food and drink where consumption is mostly undertaken on-site;

o (c) (i) financial services, (ii) professional services (other than health or medical) or (iii) any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality;

o (d) Indoor sport, recreation or fitness not involving motorized vehicles or firearms;

o (e) Provision of medical or health services, except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practitioner;

o (f) Creche, day nursery or day centre, not including residential use,

or for:

o (g) (i) an office to carry out any operational or administrative functions; (ii) the research and development of products or processes; and (iii) any industrial process (these 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).


The key effect is to have a wider range of uses that are acceptable in ‘commercial centres’ and that their interchangeable conversion is also acceptable in principle, subject to any physical development.



New Class F (Local Community and Learning) sub-divided into two categories:

o F.1 – Learning and non-residential uses - comprising the non-residential uses for:

 (a) education,

 (b) the display of works of art (other than for sale or hire),

 (c) museum,

 (d) public library or public reading room,

 (e) public hall or exhibition hall,

 (f) for or in connection with public worship or religious instruction, or

 (g) as a law court.


o F.2 – Local Community – comprising:

 (a) a shop selling essential goods including food to visiting members of the public where: the shop’s premises cover an area not more than 280m2 and there are no other such facilities within 1km

 (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,

 (d) indoor or outdoor swimming pools and skating rinks.

This new class essentially picks up where Class D has been dropped, but for a few tweaks.


• Sui-Generis – Whilst not a class as such, Article (3) Paragraph (6), identifies the following uses in respect of being sui generis uses, (in addition to those previously listed):

 (p) public house, wine bar or drinking establishment;

 (q) drinking establishment with expanded food provision;

 (r) hot food takeaway for the sale of hot food where consumption is mostly off-site;

 (s) a venue for live music performance;

 (t) cinema;

 (u) concert hall;

 (v) bingo hall; and

 (x) dance hall


As before, the use of a building or land for any other purpose within the same class is not to be taken to involve development; this is clarified in respect of applying in England only and specifically in respect of Class B uses where may fall within the retained Class B uses or the new Class E.


Similarly, where on a single site or adjacent sites used as a single undertaking the use consists of a use set out within (in respect to England) Schedule 2, Class E (g) (which essentially relates to the former B1 uses and B2 uses as modified) and Schedule 1, Class B2 as modified, those classes may be treated as a single class, so long as the area used for the purpose falling within Class B2 or Class B2 as modified is not substantially increased.


Confused? Call us to help you through the new regulations!


Amanda Stobbs, TPP


Photo by Artur Tumasjan


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