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Changes to Planning Legislation

Some recent changes to planning legislation that have been designed to boost development have been implemented. Do I need planning permission for change of use? Before negotiating a lease or buying a property, it is vital for owners and tenants to consult on whether planning permission is needed for intended use.  Planning permission is not required when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same use classes, for example, if a coffee shop becomes a restaurant. You will need planning permission to change from one use class to another, although there are exceptions. Failure to obtain necessary permissions can incur substantial fines and impact on business.

A material change in the use of buildings or land is considered development, and planning permission is required. Planning applications may take up to eight weeks to be processed. Large or complex applications may take longer. It is important to take advice as early as possible and our Commercial Property Team are ready to assist with your queries.

Contact us for further legal advice via email at [email protected].

Planning Use Classes Orders 2020 & Change of Use

  • The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No.757)  take effect on 1 September 2020.

  • The new Regulations make essential changes to the 1987 Use Classes Order. 

  • The core changes include the removal of Classes A, part of B and all of D with new Use Classes introduced in their place.

New Classes

  • Class E (Commercial, business and service) – this will amalgamate previous use classes (A1) Shops, (A2) financial/professional services, (A3) cafés/restaurants, (D1 part) medical health facilities, creche and nurseries (D2 part) indoor sports/fitness, and (B1) office/business/light industrial uses.
  • Class F.1 (Learning and non-residential institutions) – including non-residential educational uses, and use as a museum, art gallery, library, public hall, religious institution or law court
  • Class F.2 (Local community) – including use as a shop of no more than 280 sqm mostly selling essential goods, including food and at least 1km from another similar shop, and use as a community hall, area for outdoor sport, swimming pool or skating rink. 


In addition, the Government has introduced a further Statutory Instruments amending the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (“the General Permitted Development Order”), This follows the introduction of new permitted development rights for upwards extensions to purpose-built blocks of flats and forms part of the Government’s promised package of radical planning reform to support economic recovery and housing delivery.

What to do next

For further legal advice on Permitted Development Rights for Additional Storeys to Dwelling Houses, or to Create Dwellings, or also legal advice on Permitted Development Rights for Demolition and Rebuild for Residential Use, contact our Commercial Property Team to arrange an appointment.

 Content provided by Practical Law. The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice, and should not be relied upon as advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. All content was correct at the time of publishing. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.