Planning Use Classes Order & Change of Use

This guide is intended to serve as a reference guide to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes Order) 1987 that puts uses of buildings and land into categories known as ‘Use Classes’.

Also, we’ve updated the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 with the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Amendment Orders.


Do I need planning permission for Change of Use?

Simply put, you do not need planning permission for change of use if it falls under these categories:

  • The change of use is under the Permitted Development Rights.
  • The change of use is within the same use class.
  • There will only be interior alterations.
  • The development does not change the exterior appearance of the place.

On the other hand, there are also specific developments that the legislation requires to have planning permission. These include:

  • Structural modification, construction, rebuilding and demolition.
  • Material change of use.
  • Engineering operations.
  • Mining operations.
  • Builder operations.
  • Subdivision of houses turning it into two to three houses.


How long does it take to receive planning permission for change of use?

A planning application could take up to 8 weeks to be processed, however, more complex or larger applications can take longer.

To receive a more accurate timeframe for your planning permission, we recommend that you speak with either your local planning adviser or local authority planning offer.


Permitted Change of Use Classes

Below you will find all the Permitted Changes of Use for all building within England and Wales (amended).

This can help in understanding whether or not it’s necessary for you to actively seek out planning permission.

use class orders

Use ClassUse / DescriptionPermitted Change
Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers,
travel and ticket agencies, post offices, dry cleaners, etc
Pet shops, cats-meat shops, tripe shops, sandwich bars
Showrooms, domestic hire shops, funeral directors.
A1 or A2 & up to 2 flats.

Temporary (up to 2 years) to A2, A3 or B1 (interchangeable with notification).

C*, A2, A3*, D2*.

Banks, building societies, estate and employment
Professional and financial services, betting offices.
A1 where there is a display window at ground floor level.Permitted change to or from a mixed-use for any purpose within A2 and up to 2 flats.

To A1 and up to 2 flats, where there is a display window at ground floor level.Temporary (2 years) to A1, A3 or B1.C3*; A3*; D2*.

Food and Drink
Restaurants, pubs, snack bars, cafés, wine bars, shops for
sale of hot food.
C1 or C2.

Temporary (2 years) to A1, A2 or B1.

Drinking Establishments
Wine bars, public houses or other drinking establishments (excluding night clubs).A3.
Hot Food Takeaways
Properties that sell hot food for consumption off of the premises.A1, A2 or A3.
Offices, not within A2.
Research and development studios, laboratories, high tech light industry
Ba(a) to C3*.Temporary (2 years) to A1, A3 or A3.State-funded school or nursery*;B1(c) to C3*. (Built/Created between 1 October 2017 – 30th September 2020).
Used for industrial processes other than properties falling within class B1

(excluding incineration
purposes, chemical treatment or landfill or hazardous waste).

B1 and B8.
Wholesale warehouse, distribution centres, repositories.B1 where no more than 235 sqm

C3* (until 15 April 2018).

Hotels, boarding and guest houses.A state-funded nursery or school.
Residential schools and colleges.
Hospitals and convalescent/nursing homes.
A state-funded nursery or school.
Use as a dwellinghouse (whether or not as the main residence) by:

A single person or by people to be regarded
as forming a single household.

Fewer than six residents living together
as a single household where care is
provided for residents.

Not more than six residents living together
as a single household where no care is
provided to residents (other than use
within Class C4).

Small houses in multiple occupation
These are small shared houses that are occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their primary place of residence.C3.


Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, consulting
rooms.Museums, public halls, libraries, art galleries, exhibition
halls.Non-residential education and training centres.
Temporary (up to 2 years) to A1, A2, A3 or B1.

and Leisure

Cinemas, music and concert halls.

Dance, sports halls, swimming baths, skating rinks,

Other indoor and outdoor sports and leisure uses, bingo

State-funded nursery or school*.

Temporary (up to 2 years) to A1, A2, A3 or B1.

TheatresNo permitted
Sui GenerisShops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles.

Launderettes, taxi or vehicle hire businesses,  petrol filling stations.

change to A1, No permitted
Any work registrable under the Alkali, etc. Works
Regulation Act, 1906
No permitted
Hostel, Casinos, amusement centresNo permitted
changesCasinos to A3 (subject to approval) Casinos to D2.Amusement centre or Casino to C3
Agricultural BuildingsBuildings solely in agricultural use since 3rd July 2012.Flexible A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1 or D2 up to a limit of 500 sqm in perpetuity creating a sui generis use.
D1 (state-funded school or registered nursery only.


Certificate of Lawful Use

If your property can demonstrate that it’s been in residential use for four years, it might be possible to gain a Certificate of Lawful use, which will allow the property to effectively have planning permission for that use.

The same is available for commercial properties, however, the period of time required is ten years.


Notes On The Use Classes Order Act

  1. Changes of use within a specific class do not require planning permission provided that the use
    subsists; the planning permission has been implemented, and no restrictive condition is attached to
    the consent
  2. The permitted development rights shown in the final column do not require planning permission where
    all criteria set out in the Order are met and no restrictive conditions apply
  3. The General Development (Amendment) Order 1995 provides for the permitted change of use of a
    building from Class A1 or Class A2 to a mixed-use for the purposes of either Class A1 or Class A2 and
    as a single flat, and from such a mixed-use to Class A1 or Class A2 use provided the Class A1 or Class
    A2 use is situated on a floor below the single flat and various other conditions are met.
  4. Sui Generis is a term which refers to use on its own. Any planning use not falling within a specific
    class within the Classes Order falls within this category.
  5. A B1 use must be capable of being undertaken “in any residential area without detriment to the
    amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit”.
  6. The Use Classes (Amendment) Order 1995 amends the 1987 Order by omitting Classes B4 – B7
    (special industrial groups B – E). Industrial processes previously within these classes now fall within
    Class B2 (general industrial).
  7. A C1 use is defined as a hotel or a boarding or guest house where, in each case, no significant
    element of care is provided.
  8. Six or fewer residents unless living together as a family.
  9. It should be noted that permitted changes of use identified above are ratchet changes, i.e. cannot be
    made in reverse.
  10. Various other permitted development rights exist for, inter alia, industrial and warehouse buildings,
    dwelling houses, agricultural buildings, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and development by
    statutory undertakers.
  11. The above is intended as a general guide only. Reference must be made in the final instance to the
    Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended, the Use Classes Order 1987 as amended, and the
    General Development Order 1988 as amended.

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