Property Search




The Government has today released the proposed changes to the Use Classes Order which relates to land within England only. The provisions change the use class of: retail and leisure (Class A), Offices (Class B1a) and Leisure and Recreation (Class D2).

The summary is that all of these uses now fall within a single new class – ‘Commercial, Business and Service’ (Class E) with the intention it allows flexibility between all uses. The intention is to provide a more agile planning framework such that the property market (and high streets in particular) can respond to dynamic changes in commercial sectors.

The provisions will come into effect formally on 1 September 2020 and the are summarised below.

Principle Provisions


  • Class A (retail, food and drink, etc), Class D (leisure) and Class B1 have been revoked.


  • A new Class E has been crated which is entitled ‘Commercial, Business and Service’ which includes (former use class in brackets for ease):


  • Retail (A1).
  • Café and restaurant (A3).
  • Financial Services (A2).
  • Professional Service (other than health or medical services) (A2).
  • Any Other Services appropriate to provide in a commercial business or service locality (A2).
  • Indoor sport and recreation (D2).
  • Medical or health services (mainly to visiting members of the public) (D1).
  • Crèche, day nursery or day centre (not including residential and principally to visiting members of the public) (D1).
  • Office (B1a).
  • Research and Development (B1b)
  • Any industrial process (which can be carried out in a residential area without detriment to amenity) (B1c).


  • The explanatory memorandum that has been issued as part of the new Order has confirmed that a building in the Class E may be in use for a number of uses ‘concurrently or at different times of day’ suggesting there can be complete flexibility within the Use Class. It follows that buildings can be used flexibly for all of the above without the requirement for planning permission.


  • Former Class A4 (drinking establishments) and A5 (hot food takeaway) have been moved into the ‘Sui Generis’ use class.


  • Cinemas, bingo hall and live music venues also moved from Class D2 into ‘Sui Generis’. 


  • Sui Generis class expanded to protect locally important uses (such as cinemas and pubs) and ensure those which can cause amenity issues (hot food takeaways) are properly considered as part of a planning application.


  • There is also protection for ‘local shops’ (which are in a new Class F.2) are defined as ‘shops’ below 280 sq. m and 1,000 sq. m from any other ‘shop’ unit within Class E.


  • Learning and non-residential institutions (formerly D1) have now moved into a new Class F.1


  • Any building that was in use within Class A1, A2, A3, B1(a) or indoor sports  / recreation (D2) as of 1 September will be treated as if it’s being used for a purpose within the new Class E.


Provisions and Limitations


The above provisions are a substantial change to the well-established use class system and will provide a significant amount of flexibility for Landlords and Tenants for how they wish to utilise their floor space.  For example, a premises could be used as a shop in the day and then a restaurant or gym in the evening.


There are no limitations linked to unit sizes which have previously been included in temporary provisions linked to certain uses.


Whilst the changes create a positive framework in terms of flexibility, existing planning conditions attached to planning permissions for existing buildings may still impose limitations on use.  For example, a planning permission may say that a unit may only be used as a ‘restaurant’ or ‘gym’ and for no other purpose (thus removing permitted changes within a single use class).  Each case will need to be assessed on its merits and with particular regard to the planning history of the relevant premises.


We understand that certain Council’s are also considering their ability to adopt new Article 4 provisions which may restrict some of the provisions.  Again this will need to be monitored on a case by case basis but expect these Articles to primary be introduced by Council’s in Greater London.



Latest News

The RICS Client Money Handling Procedure
The RICS Client Money Protection Scheme
The RICS Client Money Protection Certificate