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Use Classes

Use Classes

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as 'Use Classes' which are detailed below.

'Change of use' can occur within the same use class or from one use class to another. Changes across Use Classes require planning permission, unless subject to permitted development rights (see ‘changing between Use Classes’).

Depending on the specifics of any proposed change of use, including any building work associated with the proposal, it may require an application for planning permission or prior approval. The relevant building regulations also need to be considered for any proposed change of use.

Class C – Locations Where People Sleep

  • C1 Hotels - Hotels and guest houses where no significant element of care is provided (excludes hostels)
  • C2 Residential institutions - Residential care homes, hospitals, nursing homes, boarding schools, residential colleges and training centres
  • C2A Secure Residential Institution - Use for a provision of secure residential accommodation, including use as a prison, young offenders institution, detention centre, secure training centre, custody centre, short term holding centre, secure hospital, secure local authority accommodation or use as a military barracks
  • C3 Dwellinghouses - This class is formed of three parts
    • C3(a) covers use by a single person or a family (a couple whether married or not, a person related to one another with members of the family of one of the couple to be treated as members of the family of the other), an employer and certain domestic employees (such as an au pair, nanny, nurse, governess, servant, chauffeur, gardener, secretary and personal assistant), a carer and the person receiving the care and a foster parent and foster child
    • C3(b) covers up to six people living together as a single household and receiving care e.g. supported housing schemes such as those for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems
    • C3(c) allows for groups of people (up to six) living together as a single household. This allows for those groupings that do not fall within the C4 HMO definition, but which fell within the previous C3 use class, to be provided for i.e. a small religious community may fall into this section as could a homeowner who is living with a lodger
  • C4 Houses in multiple occupation - Small shared houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their only or main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Class E - Commercial, Business and Service

Buildings which are primarily used for:

  • E(a) Display or retail sale of goods, other than hot food
  • E(b) Sale of food and drink for consumption (mostly) on the premises
  • E(c) Provision of:
    • E(c)(i) Financial services,
    • E(c)(ii) Professional services (other than health or medical services), or
    • E(c)(iii) Other appropriate services in a commercial, business or service locality
  • E(d) Indoor sport, recreation or fitness (not involving motorised vehicles or firearms)
  • E(e) Provision of medical or health services (except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practitioner)
  • E(f) Creche, day nursery or day centre (not including a residential use)
  • E(g) Uses which can be carried out in a residential area without detriment to its amenity:
    • E(g)(i) Offices to carry out any operational or administrative functions,
    • E(g)(ii) Research and development of products or processes
    • E(g)(iii) Industrial processes

Class F - Local Community and Learning

In two main parts, Class F includes newly defined learning and local community uses.

  • F1 Learning and non-residential institutions – Use (not including residential use) defined in 7 parts:
    • F1(a) Provision of education
    • F1(b) Display of works of art (otherwise than for sale or hire)
    • F1(c) Museums
    • F1(d) Public libraries or public reading rooms
    • F1(e) Public halls or exhibition halls
    • F1(f) Public worship or religious instruction (or in connection with such use)
    • F1(g) Law courts
  • F2 Local community – Use as defined in 4 parts:
    • F2(a) Shops (mostly) selling essential goods, including food, where the shop’s premises do not exceed 280 square metres and there is no other such facility within 1000 metres
    • F2(b) Halls or meeting places for the principal use of the local community
    • F2(c) Areas or places for outdoor sport or recreation (not involving motorised vehicles or firearms)
    • F2(d) Indoor or outdoor swimming pools or skating rinks

Sui Generis

'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’.

This includes; fuel stations, retail warehouse clubs, hot food takeaways, drinking establishments, launderettes, betting shops and payday loan shops.

Changing Between Use Classes

A change of use within the same class does not represent ‘development’ and therefore does not require planning permission. Changes between classes do require planning permission. However, under the ‘General Permitted Development Order’ (GPDO) there are certain changes between classes which are permitted without planning permission.

These are known as permitted development rights. Until 31st July 2021, permitted development rights are in place for conversions from shops to other retail or hospitality premises and residential uses. A new set of permitted development rights is set to take effect from 1st August 2021.

Any changes outside of the Use Class do require planning permission. 

Space Above Shops

If you have an area above your shop which you wish to convert into a residential flat, this is also possible provided that:

  • The space is in the same class of use as the shop or office to start with;
  • The space is not in a separate planning unit from the shop;
  • You will not change the outside appearance of the building;
  • If there is a display window at ground floor level, you will not incorporate any of the ground floor into the flat.