The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as 'Use Classes'. Planning permission may be needed for the use of the building or premises including converting a home into a shop or to convert business premises or residential buildings into other uses.
In some cases, a change of use of a building or land does not need planning permission; for example, a greengrocer's shop could be changed to an estate agent as the Use Class Order allows this type of change to occur without requiring planning permission.
Most external building work, including shop fronts, is likely to require planning permission. Before negotiating a lease or buying a property, consideration should be given to whether planning permission is required for the use or alterations intended.
New legislation on Changes of Use and Permitted Development
Changes have been made to the Use Classes Order 1987 and with effect from 1 September 2020, existing Classes A1, A2, A3, B1, and D1 of the Use Classes Order 1987 have been combined to form a new Class E, entitled ‘Commercial, Business and Service’.
The new Class E encompasses uses such as retail shops, hairdressers, estate agents, coffee bars, cafes, restaurants, B1 business, doctors, dentists, gyms, creches/day nurseries and more.
It should be noted that Class E does not include pubs or takeaways - planning permission is still required to change to/from these. Also, it does not include a permitted development right for any external alterations, ducts, grilles, vents, plant etc - planning permission will still be required for these in the normal way.
The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 202: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/757/made.
The 'Use Classes Order' can be accessed through the Planning Portal.