Change of use of premises for business users

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

From 30 May 2013, a number of changes have also taken place in respect of the Use Class Order and permitted changes for new and extending business premises, as well as agricultural buildings and schools. In summary these additional changes from 30 May 2013 are required to follow a "prior notification" process and in brief include:

  • Agricultural buildings under 500 square metres can change to a number of other uses (A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1 and D2). For buildings between 150 square metres and 500 square metres, subject to prior approval covering flooding, highways and transport impacts, and noise is required.
  • Premises in B1, C1, C2, C2A and D2 use classes can change use permanently to a state-funded school, subject to prior approval covering highways and transport impacts and noise.
  • Premises in B1(a) office use can change to C3 residential use, subject to prior approval covering flooding, highways and transport issues and contamination.
  • Buildings with A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1 and D2 uses will be permitted to change use for a single period of up to two years to A1, A2, A3 and B1 uses.
  • Thresholds for business change of use increased from 235 square metres to 500 square metres for permitted development for change of use from B1 or B2 to B8 and from B2 or B8 to B.

The 'Use Classes Order' can be accessed through the Planning Portal.