Changes of use not requiring planning permission
Planning permission is not needed when the existing and the proposed uses fall within the same ‘use class’, or if The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) (GPDO) says that changes of use is permitted to another specified ‘use class’.
For example, a greengrocer’s shop could be changed to a shoe shop without the need for planning permission as these uses fall within the same ‘use class’, and a restaurant could be changed to a shop or a estate agency as the GPDO allows this type of change to occur without requiring planning permission.
Whilst a change of use might not need permission, any external building work associated with a change of use may still require planning permission. The table below of permanent changes in Schedule Part 3 simplifies the complex legislation and should be read as a guide only, and in conjunction with the additional comments and restrictions below. Where we have articles on this Planning Geek website we have added direct links. P3/Class… refers to the various sections within the GPDO – see this page for all those sections. In addition to the permanent permissions below, there are a number of temporary changes in Schedule 2 Part 4 these are covered here.
This page was last updated on 9th May 2019 to reflect the latest changes to the GPDO.
A2 (financial and professional services)
A3 (restaurants and cafes)
A4 (drinking establishments)
A5 (hot food takeaways)
|A4 drinking establishment with A3 (restaurants and cafes)|
B1(c) (light industrial)
B2 (general industrial)
B8 (storage and distribution)
C2 (Residential institutions)
C2(a) (Secure Residential institutions)
C4 (houses in multiple occupation)
D1 (Non-residential institutions)
D2 (Assembly and leisure)
|Sui Generis (casinos)|
|Sui Generis (betting offices)|
|Sui Generis (pay day loan shop)|
|Sui Generis (agricultural buildings)|
|Sui Generis (amusement arcade or centre)|
|Sui Generis (launderette)|
For temporary changes of use – see this section.
The table provides a summary for the most common changes of use that apply in most circumstances, but there may also be further restrictions that do not allow you to implement the change of use. For example, if the property is within a Conservation Area, National Park, or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or if the building is a Listed Building or Scheduled Monument, within a site of special scientific interest, safety hazard area, or military explosives area.
Local planning authorities can also remove permitted development rights in certain areas, meaning that you will require planning permission, so you should always check with your local council before you consider undertaking any works.
Some changes of use are also permitted, either only on a temporary basis, and/or subject to additional restrictions.
Some changes of use are subject to a prior approval procedure with the local planning authority. This seeks approval of various matters, dependent on the nature of the use, but might typically include matters relating to parking and highways, flooding, and contaminated land. In the case of A3 uses, prior approval is required in respect of matters relating to noise, odour, waste collection, impact of the hours of opening, transport and highways impact, impact on existing shopping provision, the design of any external changes and a statement specifying the net increase in dwellinghouses proposed by the development.
All prior approval applications require a fee to be paid to the local planning authority. Currently £96 or £206. See fees.
Where a development comprises a “mixed use” in the retail uses classes and betting office / pay day loans shop category with one or two flats above, then there are also some permitted development rights for changes of use of that mixed use, similar to the presiding use identified in the table above. See Class M rights.
Where a property is in two use classes – then it will be classed as sui generis. The one exception is a building with B1 & B2 use as long as the section allocated to B2 is not substantially increased.
Office to Residential
Temporary permitted development rights currently apply in respect of the change of use of premises from a B1(a) office use to C3 residential use. This is subject to Prior Approval being sought in respect of flooding, contamination, highways and transport issues and impacts of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development. For a property to benefit from C3 use, the development must be completed within three years starting with the prior approval date. See the full article.
Storage / Distribution to Residential
Temporary permitted development rights also apply in respect of the change of use of premises from a B8 storage and distribution use under 500m2 to C3 residential use. This is subject to a number of criteria being met and subject to Prior Approval being sought in respect of air quality, transport and highways impacts, contamination risks, flooding risks, noise impact, and impact on the sustainability of adjoining uses. See the full article.
Agricultural buildings are permitted to change to C3 use (dwellinghouses), together with some building operations necessary to facilitate the conversion. This is subject to meeting certain criteria, allows a maximum of 5 units to be created (including any previously created under Class Q). No dwellings may be created larger than 465 sqm at all. Dwellings between 100-465 sqm are deemed “larger dwellinghouses” and you can create no more than 3 of these on each agricultural unit and the cumulative floorspace changing to such larger dwellings cannot exceed 465 sqm. Smaller dwellings under 100 sqm are only restricted by the upper limit of 5 units. See full article.
It is also subject to Prior Approval being sought in respect of transport and highways impacts, noise impact, contamination risks, flooding risks, whether the building is suitable for a residential use, and the design or external appearance of the building.
Agricultural buildings under 500m2 are permitted to change to a flexible commercial use, comprising A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1 or D2 uses. This is subject to meeting certain criteria, and Prior Approval being sought in relation to uses over 150m2 in respect of transport and highways impacts, noise impact, contamination risks and flooding risks. See full article.
Agricultural buildings within land under 500m2 are permitted to change to a state funded school or a registered nursery. This is subject to meeting certain criteria, and Prior Approval being sought in respect of transport and highways impacts, noise impact, contamination risks, flooding risks and whether the building is suitable for the proposed use.
Light industrial to dwellinghouses
This change of use is set out in Class PA. It allows a change of use from B1(c) (light industrial) to C3 (dwellinghouses) subject to limitations and conditions including the prior approval of the local planning authority in respect of certain matters.
It is only applicable to applications for which prior approval is granted before 1 October 2020. Development must then be completed within 3 years of the prior approval date. See the full article.
State funded schools and registered nurseries
Buildings and land within B1, C1, C2, C2A and D2 uses are permitted to change to a state funded school or registered nursery. This is subject to meeting certain criteria, and Prior Approval being sought in respect of transport and highways impacts, noise impact, and contamination risks.
Changes of use requiring a planning application
Other than for the permitted changes of use listed above and changes where both uses fall within the same ‘use class’, planning permission is generally required for a material change of use.
Most external building work associated with a change of use is also likely to require planning permission, although the The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 does also allow some minor external changes.
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