Planning Use Classes Changes

Given everything that has been going on recently, you would be forgiven for not noticing that new planning regulations were made on 20 July.  However, these regulations are introducing significant changes to the current planning use classes from 1 September 2020 and are worth taking note.

The main changes are to revoke parts A and D and introducing a new class E.  New Sui Generis uses are also being introduced.  So, in practical terms, how will this affect you?

– If you operate a shop, your use would have fallen under Class A1.  The regulations provide that this use will now fall under the new Class E (although note that it may fall under the new class F.2 if it is small, selling essential goods and there is no other similar shop nearby).

– If you operate a café or takeaway, your use would have fallen under Class A3 or A5 and this will also now fall under Class E.

– If you work in an office, your use would have fallen under Class B1 and this use will also now fall under Class E.

You don’t have to do anything on 1 September to change your use, this will happen automatically.

As you can see, the new Class E covers a huge amount more than was previously included within one use class.  Is this is a good thing?  Arguably, yes, it is because if you are thinking of diversifying your services to include another use within Class E, then you will not need to apply for planning permission to do so.

However, you may not be as pleased if you operate a pub which currently falls within Class A4 but which will become Sui Generis.  A separate Sui Generis use is a pub which serves food and a further separate sui generis use is for hot food takeaway.  As a general rule Sui Generis uses can’t be changed to any other use without an express planning permission and so there is likely to be more red tape involved with one of these uses going forward.

The rationale behind these changes is to allow greater flexibility so that the high street is better able to adapt to provide what consumers and businesses need.  There have recently been unprecedented changes to working arrangements and access to shops as a result of Coronavirus, and many will be wondering if some of these changes are here to stay.  This planning use class may be one tool to assist with the evolution of the high street use and flexible working arrangements going forward.

Charlotte Taylor
Commercial Solicitor