On 21 July 2020, the UK Government laid before Parliament new regulations that, if enacted, will radically overhaul the English Planning System. Changes to permitted development (PD) rights were also announced on the same day.

Published 03 Aug 2020


Stuart Mitchell

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (“UCO”) will streamline the existing 16 Use Classes into 11 by introducing three new broad Use Classes.

This means that from 1 September 2020  planning permission will not be required for change of use within the new broader Use Classes unless explicitly stated, making it easier for businesses and landlords to adapt to the changing demands of the high street.

Furthermore, the new UCO also introduces the notion of a “part use”, allowing a change of use of part of a building, use or planning unit to an alternative Class E use without permission.

Class E -A new single Commercial, Business and Service Use Class known as E which, as well as subsuming the existing A1, A2, A3, B1 and selected D1 and D2 Use Classes which includes retail, food, financial services, indoor sport and fitness, medical or health services, nurseries, offices and light industry, Class E will also include a new category of ‘other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality’.  This is expected to comprise uses such as travel agents and post offices which were previously classified within Class A1.

Class F1 – A new Learning and Non-Residential Institutions Use Class, known as F1, embraces the remaining parts of the existing D1 Use Classes that are not included within the new Class E. This will include education, non-commercial galleries, law courts, libraries, museums, places of worship and public halls.

Class F2 – A new Local Community Use Class, known as F2, will comprises part of the current A1 and D2 Use Classes and includes small corner shops, local community halls, outdoor recreational areas and swimming pools.

Sui Generis – Pubs, wine bars and other drinking establishments, drinking establishments with expanded food provision , hot food takeaways, live music venues, cinemas, concerts, bingo and dance halls are added to the list of sui generis uses so a change from one to another would require planning permission if there is a material change in use. There are significant potential uncertainties with this, for example, what the difference between a restaurant and a ‘drinking establishment with expanded food provision’ such as a gastropub might be.  Consequently there could be a rise in disputes over such matters.

Other Use Classes – Use Classes C (residential), B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage and distribution) remain unchanged in all material respects.

Building Use Card