Planning Geek

Use Class Changes in 2020/21

Use Class Changes in 2020/21

On the 21st July 2020 the government published the The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 which came into force on the 1st September 2020. The government has issued an explanatory document on the changes and why they were made here.  Use Class A and D were removed as is B1(a) in England.

Three new use classes were introduced:-

Use Class ECommercial, Business and Service
This use class brings together existing classes A1(shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafes) and B1 (business) as well as parts of classes D1 (non-residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) into one single use class to allow for changes of use without the need of planning permission. However shops and facilities with are deemed as being important to the local community have been placed into Use Class F2


Use Class F1Learning and non-residential institutions
This use class brings together some elements of Use Class D1 namely, schools, colleges etc., galleries, museums, public libraries, public halls or exhibition halls and churches etc.


Use Class F2 Local community uses
This use class is designed to protect local community assets and includes shops smaller than 280m² with no other shop within a 10,000m (1km) radius, a hall or meeting place for the principal use of the local community (was use class D1), outdoor sport or recreation locations (was D2(e) use class) and swimming pools or skating rinks (was D2(e) use class)


Benefits and disadvantages to the new changes!


There are always winners and losers to any changes in any legislation and this is no exception. Some items have been been moved to sui generis that were in one use class. For example under the new use classes it will no longer be possible to move from a cinema to bingo hall or dance hall or vice versa.

Conversely you will be able to go between shops, restaurants, cafés, clinics, crèches, banks, offices, light industrial, indoor sports to another use within the new Use Class E. This will certainly give a few options. It will, for example, allow Costa (other coffee shops are available) to open cafés where previously they needed permission to convert a shop. This is all subject to any restrictive covenants or restrictions placed by previous planning permission. Note that any external changes will probably require planning permission if not permitted by GPDO.

This new class allows for a mix of uses to reflect changing retail and business models. It therefore recognises that a building may be in a number of uses concurrently or that a building may be used for different purposes at different times of the day. Changes to another use, or mix of uses, within this class do not require planning permission. Bringing these uses together and allowing movement between them will give businesses greater freedom to adapt to changing circumstances and to respond more quickly to the needs of their communities.


Table of changes

Current Use Former Use Class New Use Class
Shops﹤280m² and no other ≤1,000m radius A1 Class F2
Local community uses
Shops A1 Class E
Commercial, Business and Service
Post Offices
Travel Agencies
Sandwich Bars
Funeral Directors/ Undertakers
Retail Warehouses (Argos etc.)
Domestic Hire Shops
Dry Cleaners
Locations to receive items for cleaning or repair
Internet Cafés
Banks and Building Societies A2
Estate Agents or Employment Agencies
Restaurants A3
Public Houses/Wine Bars etc. where no or little food is served
Drinking Establishments with expanded food provision
Sui Generis
In a class of their own
Hot Food Takeaways A5
Offices B1(a) Class E
Commercial, Business and Service
Research and Development of products and processes B1(b)
Light Industrial appropriate in a residential area B1(c)
General Industrial B2 Class B2 (no change)
Storage and Distribution B8 Class B8 (no change)
Hotels C1 Class C1 (no change)
Residential Institutions C2 Class C2 (no change)
Secure Residential Institutions C2A Class C2A (no change)
Houses and Flats C3 Class C3 (no change)
HMOs (between 3 & 6 residents) C4 Class C4 (no change)
Doctors, Clinics and Health Centres, Acupuncture Clinics etc. (except where linked to the residence of the practitioner) D1 Class E
Commercial, Business and Service
Crèches, Day Nurseries or Day Centres
Schools D1 Class F1
Learning and non-residential institutions
Public Halls (except local)
Churches etc.
Cinemas D2 Sui Generis
In a class of their own
Music and Concert Halls
Bingo Halls
Dance Halls (not nightclubs)
Gymnasiums D2 Class E
Commercial, Business and Service
Indoor Sports and Recreation (except where motorsports or firearms are used)
Halls or Meeting Places for principal use of the local community D2 Class F2
Local community uses
Swimming Pools
Skating rinks
Outdoor Sports and Recreation (except where motorsports or firearms are used)
Theatres, Betting Offices, Payday Loan Shops,
Funfairs, Large Houses in multiple occupation (seven or more), ‘Alkali Works’, Hostels providing no significant element of care, Scrap Yards, Yards for the Storage/Distribution of Minerals, Yards for the Breaking of Motor Vehicles, Fuel Stations, Shops selling and/or displaying Motor Vehicles, Retail Warehouse Clubs, Nightclubs, Launderettes, Police Stations, Taxi Businesses, Car Hire locations, Amusement Arcades and Centres, Casinos, Tattoo Parlours, Beauticians, Massage Parlours, Nail Bars, Landfill Sites, Motor Sport Arenas, Firearms Ranges
Sui Generis Sui Generis (no change)


Page Updated: 19th November 2021

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