Thursday 29 October 2020
The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 legislation represent the biggest changes to UK use classes in over 30 years.
Use Classes have been simplified in order to facilitate the change of use of properties. The current system dates back from the Use Classes Order 1987. Over the years, though, central government has tried to add some flexibility by creating various permitted development rights (PDR). These allow you to change from one use to another without planning permission, although councils could suspend these using Article 4 directions.
This is good news for business owners as it means they won’t have to get planning permission to change the use of their building. This should make it easier for the rental of shops and other premises because the potential of tenants is widened. For the same reason, it should now be easier to sell shops. Note that planning permission would still be needed for any external structural changes.
Pubs and bars (previously A4), takeaways (A5), cinemas and live music venues (D2) are deemed as “Sui-Generis” classification. Meanwhile, pubs and cinemas, along with live music venues – which have temporary planning protection during the COVID-19 crisis – are now sui generis.
The new F1 and F2 classes are designed for “learning and non-residential institutions”. F1 incorporates half of the old D1 Use Class, and includes educational establishments, places of worship, libraries and museums. The F2 groups together meeting halls, swimming pools, playing fields and isolated village shops.
This principle has been encouraged by permitted development rights for some time, but these new 2020 changes group a large range of business types into the same category, which in theory makes switching class easier.
There are some notable exceptions in this new legislation. Nail bars, beauty salons and betting shops all remain classed as sui generis. B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage and distribution), along with housing (C) also remain unchanged.
This new move may not be totally welcomed by some local authorities as fundamentally, the new regulations mean that councils have less power via the planning system to control the type of businesses on the high street. This also affects their future planning, and what they can suggest in their local plans in developing their area over the next decade.
Please get in touch with us for a more detailed explanation or to assist you with any changes you are planning to make.
Summary of Changes:
Classes A1/2/3, B1 & D1/2 to be treated as Class E (a,b,c)
Class C is not affected by the 1 September 2020 changes.
Class D is revoked from 1 September 2020 changes.
Class E (introduced from 1 September 2020)
In 11 parts, Class E more broadly covers uses previously defined in the revoked Classes A1/2/3, B1, D1(a-b) and ‘indoor sport’ from D2(e):
Class F (introduced from 1 September 2020)
In two main parts, Class F covers uses previously defined in the revoked classes D1, ‘outdoor sport’, ‘swimming pools’ and ‘skating rinks’ from D2(e), as well as newly defined local community uses.
'Sui generis' is a Latin term that, in this context, means ‘in a class of its own’.
Certain uses are specifically defined and excluded from classification by legislation, and therefore become ‘sui generis’. These are:
Other uses become ‘sui generis’ where they fall outside the defined limits of any other use class.
For example, C4 (Houses in multiple occupation) is limited to houses with no more than six residents. Therefore, houses in multiple occupation with more than six residents become a ‘sui generis’ use.
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