Changes to planning use classes – what are the key points?

Changes to planning use classes – what are the key points?
admin February 04, 2023

Regulations which came into force on 1st September 2020 herald significant changes to The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, meaning that planning permission may no longer be required in order to change the use of land or buildings.

A key change is that previous classes A & B1, and D1 & D2 (in part) are replaced by a new Class E, known as the ‘Commercial, Business and Service’ use class. This class now groups together a range of uses which are all treated to be in the same use class, this includes the following:

  • Shops
  • Financial and professional services
  • Restaurants and cafés
  • Indoor sport, recreation or fitness
  • Offices, including research and development
  • Crèches, day nurseries and day centres
  • Publicly available medical or health services


This is significant because planning permission is not usually required for changes of use within the same class – so businesses which fall into the new Class E will be able to change the use of properties more easily. For example, a restaurant will now be able to change to a shop and then potentially to a gym and back again, without the need for planning permission. This change has been brought about by a need to repurpose buildings in town centres, and in the current economic climate the new regulations will be welcomed by many landlords, in particular those landlords with empty premises.

It should be remembered that if building work is associated with the proposed change of use, planning permission may be required for that work, and this should always be checked with the local planning authority.

A further change worth noting is the uses which have been added to the sui generis list. ‘Sui Generis’ refers to categories which are in a class of their own and these cannot normally be changed to any other use without planning permission. The additions to this class include:

  • Pubs, wine bars and other drinking establishments
  • Hot food takeaways
  • Live music venues
  • Cinemas, concert halls, bingo halls and dance halls (previously class D1)


This means that any of the above uses (and all the existing sui generis uses) would still require planning permission for any changes of use.

This highlights some of the key changes. This article is intended for information purposes only and not as a substitute for legal advice. TP Legal does not accept any responsibility for any decisions that you may make as a result of reading this article. Please contact the team at TP Legal on 01483 751878 if you would like specific legal advice in the light of the new regulations, and we will be happy to help.