New Use Classes: All Change

It is probably safe to say these are most significant changes to the planning regulations in this round of amendments. The forthcoming government white paper will give us and indication as to for how long.  

As part of the many changes to planning system announced by the housing minister Christopher Pincher, a reshuffle of the commercial use classes has been announced to allow for more flexibility and greater adaptability of our high streets.

The new use class detailed below will come into force on 1st September 2020.

New Class E (commercial, business and services)

New Class F.1 (learning and non-residential institutions): 

Class F.2 (Local community); 

The greater flexibility for commercial units results in the creation of a new broad use class for ‘Commercial, business and services’

This new Class E will merge classes Classes A1, A2, A3 and B1(a,b & c) as well as include uses that previously fell into the D1 and D2 use classes (gym, nursery and medical services).

The full extent of Class E is as follows:

Use, or part use, for all or any of the following purposes—

(a) for the display or retail sale of goods, other than hot food, principally to visiting members of the public,

(b) for the sale of food and drink principally to visiting members of the public where consumption of that food and drink is mostly undertaken on the premises,

(c) for the provision of the following kinds of services principally to visiting members of the public—

(i) financial services,

(ii) professional services (other than health or medical services), or

(iii) any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality,

(d) for indoor sport, recreation or fitness, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms, principally to visiting members of the public,

(e) for the provision of medical or health services, principally to visiting members of the public, except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practitioner,

(f) for a creche, day nursery or day centre, not including a residential use, principally to visiting members of the public,

(g) for—

(i) an office to carry out any operational or administrative functions,

(ii) the research and development of products or processes, or

(iii) any industrial process, 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 remainder of current Class D1 (non-residential institutions) will become the new Class F1 (learning and non-residential institutions).

Class F.1 will now include:

Any use not including residential use—

(a) for the provision of education,

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

(c) as a museum,

(d) as a public library or public reading room,

(e) as a public hall or exhibition hall,

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

(g) as a law court.

Understanding the important role that community buildings and facilities play for local communities, town and villages, the government announced the creation of a new specific use class for ‘Local Community’ uses.

The new class F.2 will include:

(a) a shop mostly selling essential goods, including food, to visiting members of the public in circumstances where—

(i) the shop’s premises cover an area not more than 280 metres square, and

(ii) there is no other such facility within 1000 metre radius of the shop’s location,

(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) an indoor or outdoor swimming pool or skating rink.

In summary, the new use classes:

Class E (commercial, business and service uses)

Class F.1 (Learning and non-residential institutions)

Class F.2 (Local community uses)

Sui Generis (includes Pubs, Cinemas and concert halls) 

Apart from the more flexible Class E, take away appears to lose out by no longer being Class A and becoming Sui Generis. Pubs are now Sui Generis and therefore benefit from greater protection. 

As is the specified aim of the new regulations, changes of use within the same use class would not be considered development. Use classes prior to 1 September 2020 will remain relevant for certain change of use permitted development rights, until 31 July 2021. 

These changes will have a big impact on how permitted changes of use work and the government announced a transition period until 31st July 2021 by which time all the new permitted development rights will be introduced.

There are clearly going to be a number of areas open to interpretation and unintended consequences. 

In the meantime, as detailed in the government’s explanatory note: “A building or use will continue to be subject to any permitted development rights that it was entitled to on or before 31 August 2020”

We will stay alert and update you as the new permitted development rights unfold! Please do not hesitate to contact WEA Planning if you have a query regarding the new use classes. 

Authored by Thomas Tinel. 


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