All change: Introducing the Changes to the Use Classes Order

August 28, 2020 3:45 pm Published by

On 1 September 2020, the Use Classes Order will undergo the widest set of reforms since 1987 meaning that more types of commercial premises will have total flexibility. Sometimes pieces of legislation come along, and you have to ask yourself why have we not always been doing this?  This can be considered to be one of those situations but of course the world has changed in 2020 – online shopping and the need to stimulate the economy in as many ways as possible are more important now than ever before. It does make some development plan polices redundant on shopping protection as one example and there will be concerns on how High Streets might change.

The changes mean more changes of use can take place without a planning application. A building used for retail, for instance, would be able to be permanently used as a café or office without requiring a planning application whilst new protections are afforded to other uses of value to local communities like public houses, libraries, and village shops.

Tetlow King Planning has produced two handy guides to the new Use Classes Order:

  • The first is a summary guide to the new Use Classes as they stand from 1 September 2020 onwards.
  • The second is a ‘now and then’ comparison table showing the Use Classes as they existed before, and their replacement Use Classes from 1 September 2020.

The changes can be broadly summarised as follows:

  • Most retail, professional services, indoor leisure, office and light industrial uses are now Class E: Commercial, Business and Service;
  • Education uses, and various public venues such as galleries, museums and libraries are now Class F1: Learning and Non-Residential Institutions:
  • A selection of community uses such as small shops, outdoor sports, swimming pools and community halls are now Class F2: ‘Local Community’:
  • A range of leisure and evening economy uses such as pubs, hot food takeaways, music venues and cinemas, are now Sui Generis uses: and
  • General industrial uses within Class B2, storage and distribution uses within Class B8, and all residential uses in Classes C1-C4, remain unchanged.

The original use classes do not become irrelevant overnight. Transitional arrangements are in place until 31 July 2021 which allow some uses to be treated as being in their pre-2020 use class for certain purposes (for example, permitted development rights and planning applications).

These guides cover the Use Classes in general terms; they are not exhaustive and do not cover every possible use or situation. We always recommend that professional advice is sought in relation to any site-specific matters. Tetlow King Planning would be happy to provide further advice and assistance in this regard – please contact us on 0117 9561916 or