The Government has announced major changes to the Use Classes Order for commercial property in England.
The update is a significant change to planning regulations as part of the Government’s efforts to simplify the system. It aims to reflect the diverse range of uses in town centres which in turn should allow greater flexibility to both landlords and tenants to adapt to changing needs.
The changes, which come into force on 1 September 2020 will see a number of existing uses replaced by a new ‘Class E’ (Commercial Business and Service), as follows:
The new class will mean that buildings used for any of these purposes will not need planning permission for a change of use. This will create greater flexibility and allow for a mix of uses within one building.
There are, however, some notable exclusions from Class E, as Drinking Establishments (A4), Hot Food Takeaways (A5) and Cinemas and Bingo Halls (D2) will become ‘Sui Generis’ and will require full planning permission.
Classes C (Residential), B2 (General Industrial) and B8 (Storage & Distribution) have remained unchanged, but two new classes will be introduced, being Class F.1 (Learning & Non-Residential Institutions) and F.2 (Local Community) which currently sit within D2.
Only time will tell whether a simplified Use Class will have the desired effect, but it should certainly help in some locations by reducing barriers and increasing flexibility. It will be interesting to see whether some local authorities seek to explore the use of Article 4 Directions to limit the loss of office and retail uses to protect some core employment and retail locations.
If you have questions concerning these matters, please get in contact with Ned Gleave