Planning reform: A Guide to changes to the Use Classes Order in England

The government has proposed a complete overhaul of the Use Classes Order which relates to land within England.

The move is designed to allow greater flexibility between all uses and ultimately a more agile planning framework to reflect evolving demands in how property is utilised, without having to obtain planning permission.

In tandem with a steady stream of new Permitted Development Rights (PDR) announced in June, this is yet another measure by the government to reform the planning system which will undoubtedly fuel development and asset repositioning.

The changes, which will come into effect on 1 September 2020, will see Use Classes B1, A1-A5, D1 and D2 revoked, and replaced with Class E – ‘Commercial, service and business class’.

This will mean that land or buildings utilised for the above uses will not need to obtain planning permission for changes. Class F is reformed in two parts F1: ‘Learning and non-residential institution’ and F2 ‘Local community class’. Lastly, the new rules will also add a number of uses to the existing list of “sui generis” uses which means that planning permission will be required for any change of use.

The planned changes to the Use Classes Order are outlined below:

UseExisitng Use ClassNew use class
ShopsA1E commercial, business and service
Financial and professional servicesA2
Food and drinkA3
Offices, research and development, industrial processesB1
Clinics, health centres, creches, day nurseriesD1
Indoor sport, recreation or fitnessD2
Drinking establishmentsA4Sui generis
Hot food takeawaysA5
Live music venue, cinema, concert hall, bingo hall, dance hallD2
Education, display or works of art, museum, public library or reading room, public hall or exhibition hall, for, or in connection with, public worship or
religious instruction, law court
D1F1 Learning and non-residential institutions
Shop selling essential goods where the premises is less than 280 sqm and no
such shop within 1,000m radius
A1F2 local community
Community hall or meeting placeD1
Outdoor sport or recreation, indoor or outdoor swimming pool or skating rinkD2

Whilst the new uses will come into effect on 1 September 2020, these new uses will not be applied to the General Permitted Development Order until 31 July 2021. Any application during this time for prior approval will be determined with reference to the current Order.

To see how the new regulations might create opportunity for your property assets please do get in touch.

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Steven Cooper

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