As part of the Government’s policy to help the country recover and provide businesses with flexibility (the ‘Build Back Better’ initiative), the classification of the use classes for property in England have been amended significantly.

To bring about these changes, the Government enacted the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020, which amended the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987.

The Essentials

In force: the changes came into effect on 1 September 2020.

Three new classes:

  1. E (commercial, business and leisure),
  2. F1 (learning and non-residential institutions) and
  3. F2 (local community).

The former Classes A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafes), B1 (business), D1 (non-residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) have been revoked and dispersed between these new classes and sui generis.

Unchanged Classes: Classes B2 (general industrial), B8 (storage and distribution) and all Class C uses (residential) all remain the same.

Sui Generis: the uses within this class have been expanded, with former Classes A4 (drinking establishments), A5 (hot food takeaway) and D2 (assembly and leisure) all now within this new sui generis class.

Transitional arrangements: where a property is used for one of the old use classes, it will be treated as being used for the corresponding new use class. For planning applications submitted before 1 September which refer to the old use classes, the applications will be determined by reference to the old use classes. In relation to change of use between use classes permitted pursuant to the current permitted development rights, these will continue to be applied on the old use classes from 1 September 2020 until 31 July 2021.

The changes are subject to a judicial review challenge expected to be heard in October.

Practical Implications

These amendments mean that changes within one of the new use classes will not require planning permission. The Government is hoping that this flexibility will mean that buildings can easily be used for different uses.

For landlords and tenants, whether this flexibility and ease translates into reality will depend on the wording of the lease, and, for some landlords, their tenant mix policy. For those currently negotiating leases, additional thought is required on the permitted use of the property, the rent and provisions relating to alterations, change of use, planning and rent review. 

Bates Wells have been offering landlords and tenants a fixed fee lease review package, exploring options to terminate or vary lease. Similarly, we can look into the provisions surrounding use and advise you of your position.

If you have any further questions please do get in touch with a member of our Real Estate team who would be happy to assist you further.