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Use Classes

All buildings are sorted by the Town and Country Planning Order 1987, into specific use classes. They are divided into ‘Classes’ which pertain to A, B, C, D and ‘Sui Generis’ (of its own type) and then further sorted into ‘Orders.’ Therefore A1 and A2 are different orders, but they are the same class. The Orders are as follows:


  • A1 Shops: Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners and funeral directors.
  • A2 Financial and professional services: Banks, building societies, estate and employment agencies, professional and financial services and betting offices.
  • A3 Restaurants and cafés: For the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises – restaurants, snack bars and cafes.
  • A4 Drinking establishments: Public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments (but not night clubs).
  • A5 Hot food takeaways: For the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises.


  • B1 Business: Offices, research and development, light industry appropriate in a residential area.
  • B2 General industrial
  • B3-B7 Special industrial groups
  • B8 Storage or distribution: This class includes open air storage.


  • C1 Hotels: Hotels, boarding and guest houses where no significant element of care is provided.
  • 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 Dwelling houses: Family houses, or houses occupied by up to six residents living together as a single household, including a household where care is provided for residents.


  • D1 Non-residential institutions: Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries, museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Non residential education and training centres.
  • D2 Assembly and leisure: Cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or sports arenas (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used).
  • Sui Generis: Theatres, houses in multiple paying occupation, hostels providing no significant element of care, scrap yards. Petrol filling stations and shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles. Retail warehouse clubs, nightclubs, launderettes, taxi businesses, amusement centres, casinos.

Change of Use

A change of use within the same class (A1) does not represent ‘development’ and therefore does not require planning permission. Changes between classes and orders 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 as follows:

  • From A2 where premises have a display window at ground level to A1.
  • From A3 to A1 or A2
  • From A4 to A1 or A2 or A3
  • From A5 to A1 or A2 or A3
  • From B1 (permission limited to 235 sq m of floor space in the building to B8
  • From B2 to B1
  • from B2 (permission limited to 235 sq m of floor space in the building) to B8
  • From B8 (permission limited to 235 sq m of floor space in the building) to B1

Any changes outside of the Use Class as well as structural changes do require planning permission. ‘Sui Generis’ does not represent a single class; rather each building type represents its own class. Therefore every change to buildings within this type requires planning permission. 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.