A Guide to the Use Class Order and Change of Use

Use Class Order

The Town and Country Planning Use Class Order puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as ‘Use Classes’. Sui generis uses lie outside the Use Class Order. 

On 1 September 2020, the Use Class Order was significantly amended. The most significant change was the grouping into the new Class E (Commercial, Business and Service) of typical town centre uses such as shops, offices, restaurants and more. 

Change of Use

Changes of use can occur within the same Use Class without planning permission. 

Some changes from one Use Class to another are covered by ‘permitted development’ rights, meaning that planning permission is deemed to have been given. Some building work associated with these changes of use can also be covered by ‘permitted development’ rights. 

For example, a unit of up to 500 sqm floorspace in ‘General Industrial’ use (Use Class B2) could be changed to a ‘Storage and Distribution’ use (Use Class B8) under ‘permitted development’ rights. 

New permitted development rights come into force in April 2021 and August 2021. 

To be eligible for these ‘permitted development’ rights, the proposals must meet the specific limitations and conditions set by national legislation. Where proposals are not eligible, a planning application will usually be required. Where proposals are eligible, the conditions may also require you to make a prior approval application. 

Where your proposal meets the ‘permitted development’ requirements but you still want proof that it is lawful, you can apply for a lawful development certificate (LDC).

Planning Advice

If you need help understanding which Use Class your property falls within, or if you are unsure whether your proposed change of use benefits from ‘permitted development’ rights, or need advice on how to navigate the prior approval application process, please get in touch via or call us on 01242 501003

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