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Legal changes

Significant changes to planning use classes

Bob Pritchard, Partner explains the significant amendments to the planning use classes set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order…

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (The Regulations) took effect in England on 1 September 2020. They introduce significant amendments to the planning use classes set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. Two policy aims have influenced the changes; first of all the need to ‘repurpose’ town centres and high streets by promoting greater flexibility when it comes to changes of use without the administrative burden of applying for planning permission and secondly a desire to offer greater protection to  "community assets" (such as pubs, music venues and cinemas) by taking them out of the use classes altogether and making them "sui generis" uses. This means that express planning permission is required to change to a different use.

This has resulted in three brand new use classes:

Class E – ‘Commercial, Business and Service’ – this includes uses which formerly featured in Classes A1, A2, A3 and B1and incorporates retail, restaurant, office, financial/professional services, indoor sports, medical and nursery uses along with “any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality”;

Class F.1 – ‘Learning and Non-Residential Institutions’ – this incorporates some of the uses which were included in the old Classes D1 and D2 and also includes non-residential educational uses, and use as a museum, art gallery, library, public hall, religious institution or law court;

Class F.2 – ‘Local Community’ – into which some of the uses in existing D1 and D2 are to be subsumed. This incorporates the use as a shop of no more than 280 square metres mostly selling essential goods, including food and at least 1 kilometre from another similar shop, and use as a community hall, area for outdoor sport, swimming pool or skating rink.

Turning to the other use classes, Classes B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage and distribution) are retained in an amended form. The residential use classes (C1, C2, C2A, C3 and C4) are unaltered.

The Regulations include a complicated set of transitional provisions which retain the effect of the permitted development right based on the classes that were in place prior to the Regulations coming into force. A building or use will continue to be subject to any permitted development rights that it was entitled to on or before 31 August 2020. These transitional provisions will remain in place until 31 July 2021 when new, revised permitted development rights will be introduced.

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