Planning approved for a sui generis change of use in Westminster

Sui Generis Change of Use application

We successfully secured planning permission for a change of use for a nail and beauty salon (Sui Generis use) which has helped a thriving business expand their offer and directly aligns with recent government ambitions which seek to ensure flexibility on the high street to allow it to adapt and diversify to changing consumer demand.

It was a challenging project, with the site subject to a number of constraints which included; its location in a Conservation Area, on the core frontage of a shopping centre and subject to key retail (A1 use) protection policies.

Making the case for a change of use in a protected area

Following a detailed project and policy review, our planning team prepared a robust and pragmatic change of use application to justify a step away from local plan policies on A1 uses for the betterment of a local business, including:

+ effective negotiation with the case officer to assuage concerns over a total loss of A1 use by proposing a dual use with significantly reduced A1 element;

+ positive engagement with the Local Residents Group who are active in protecting the A1 uses in the area;

+ preparation of a supporting business statement and a review of uses in the neighbouring vicinity;

+ applied our knowledge of recent Government reports relating to planning reform for high street uses, to enable businesses to adapt to changes in consumer demands;

+ presented evidence to support the sustainable nature of the proposals, supported by relevant precedents, and relevant local and national policies, current and proposed.

We pulled together a strong application in support of the change of use and worked positively with local residents’ groups and the case officer to reach a positive outcome in a timely manner.

We were so pleased to help our client achieve their business aims and at a time when the need to support constructive high street diversification is at an all time high.

Sui Generis – in a class of its own!

Planning doesn’t only relate to physical works such as the erection of a new building or extensions to an existing one. Planning also oversees the use of land and buildings via the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended), which seeks to group common uses of buildings and land into categories known as Use Classes. The uses within each class are, for planning purposes, considered to be broadly similar to one another.

Any uses which do not fall into the categories provided in the Use Classes Order are referred to as ‘Sui Generis’ – which means they either fall outside the remit of the established classifications or are excluded from classification and therefore become Sui Generis. Examples of a sui generis use include theatres, fuel stations, launderettes and so forth.

For the purposes of this project, the unit was classed as being in A1 use, which the Use Classes Order defines as being: shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes. However, as our client wanted to change the use of the unit so that they could also offer beauty treatments, a mix of both retail and beauty fell outside the defined limits of the various Use Classes and so was classed as a sui generis use.

Where land or buildings are being used for different uses which fall into more than one class, then the overall use of the land or buildings is regarded as a mixed use, which will normally be sui generis. The exception to this is where there is a primary overall use of the site, to which the other uses are ancillary.

About us

We regularly advise clients about the implications of their proposed change of use and the most appropriate planning route available to them to help them to achieve their aims. If you have a change of use enquiry then contact our team via to see how we can best assist and to receive a tailor-made fee quote for our services to help.