Change of use

Use Classes

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) 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.

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.

Part A

  • A1 Shops - Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes
  • A2 Financial and professional services - Financial services such as banks and building societies, professional services (other than health and medical services) and including estate and employment agencies. It does not include betting offices or pay day loan shops - these are now classed as “sui generis” uses (see below)
  • 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) including drinking establishments with expanded food provision
  • A5 Hot food takeaways - For the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises.

Part B

  • B1 Business – Uses which can be carried out in a residential area without detriment to its amenity. This class is formed of three parts:
    • B1(a) Offices - Other than a use within Class A2 (see above)
    • B1(b) Research and development of products or processes
    • B1(c) Industrial processes
  • B2 General industrial - Use for industrial process other than one falling within class B1 (excluding incineration purposes, chemical treatment or landfill or hazardous waste)
  • B8 Storage or distribution - This class includes open air storage.

Part C

  • C1 Hotels - Hotels, boarding 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.

Part D

  • D1 Non-residential institutions - Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), 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 area for indoor or outdoor sports and recreations (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used).

Sui Generis

'Sui generis' is a Latin term that, in this context, means ‘in a class of its own’.

Certain uses are specifically excluded from classification by legislation, and therefore become ‘sui generis’. These are:

  • theatres
  • amusement arcades/centres or funfairs
  • launderettes
  • fuel stations
  • hiring, selling and/or displaying motor vehicles
  • taxi businesses
  • scrap yards, or a yard for the storage/distribution of minerals and/or the breaking of motor vehicles
  • ‘Alkali work’ (any work registerable under the Alkali, etc. Works Regulation Act 1906 (as amended))
  • hostels (providing no significant element of care)
  • waste disposal installations for the incineration, chemical treatment or landfill of hazardous waste
  • retail warehouse clubs
  • nightclubs
  • casinos
  • betting offices/shops
  • pay day loan shops

Other uses become ‘sui generis’ where they fall outside the defined limits of any other use class.

For example, C4 (Houses in multiple occupation) is limited to houses with no more than six residents. Therefore, houses in multiple occupation with more than six residents become a ‘sui generis’ use.