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Planning Use Classes Orders 2017 & Change of Use

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 determines what a particular property may be used for. 'Use Classes' are divided into groups to include shops and retail units, professional services, hotels and residential accommodation. The following classes of use for England as set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, were last amended by the TCPA Order in May 2017.

Do I need planning permission for change of use?

Before negotiating a lease or buying a property, it is vital for owners and tenants to consult on whether planning permission is needed for intended use. As planning rules are not always straightforward and subject to regular change, you should contact a reputable and experienced planning and development professional to advise on whether you need to apply for planning permission or begin the application process for you.

  • Planning permission is not required when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same use classes, for example, if a coffee shop becomes a restaurant.
  • You will need planning permission to change from one use class to another, although there are exceptions. Failure to obtain necessary permissions can incur substantial fines and impact on business.
  • A material change in the use of buildings or land is considered development and planning permission is required.

This information is for guidance purposes only, for clarification please contact Knight Frank.

Permitted change of use classes

Change of Use. You want to trigger a change of use? Find out for which changes you do not require a planning permission. Change of use from - to explained.

How long does planning permission take for change of use?

Planning applications may take up to eight weeks to be processed. Large or complex applications may take longer. Your Local Authority Planning Office or your planning adviser should give you an idea about the likely timetable.

Class A

A1 (Shops)

Use/description of development: Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes.

Permitted change: A1 or A2 & up to 2 flats; Temporary (2 years) to A2, A3 or B1; C3*; A2; A3*; D2*.


A2 (Professional and Financial Services)

Use/description of development: Financial services such as banks and building societies, professional services (other than health and medical services) and including estate and employment agencies. It does not include betting offices or pay day loan shops

Permitted change: A1, where there is a display window at ground floor level; A1 or A2 & up to 2 flats; Temporary (2 years) to A1, A3 or B1; C3*; A3*; D2*


A3 (Restaurants and Cafes)

Use/description of development: For the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises - restaurants, snack bars and cafes.

Permitted change: C1 or C2; Temporary (2 years) to A1, A2 or B1.


A4 (Drinking Establishments)

Use/description of development: Public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments (but not night clubs).

Permitted change: AA (mixed use as predominately A4 with some A3, now classed as AA).


A5 (Hot Food Takeaways)

Use/description of development: For the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises.

Permitted change: A1, A2 or A3; Temporary (2 years) to A1, A2, A3 or B1.


AA (Drinking Establishment with Expanded Food Provision)

Permitted change:A4


Class B

B1 (Business)

Use/description of development: B1(a): Offices (other than those that fall within A2). B1(b): Research and development of products and processes. B1(c): Light industry appropriate in a residential area.

Permitted change:  B8; B1(a) to C3*; Temporary (2 years) to A1, A2 or A3; State funded school or nursery*; B1(c) to C3* (made between 1 October 2017 - 30 September 2020)


B2 (General Industrial) 

Use/description of development: Use for industrial process other than one falling within class B1 (excluding incineration purposes, chemical treatment or landfill or hazardous waste).

Permitted change:  B1; B8


B8 (Storage and Distribution)

Use/description of development: This class includes open air storage.

Permitted change:  B1; C3* (until 15 April 2018).


Class C

C1 (Hotels)

Use/description of development: Hotels, boarding and guest houses (where no significant element of care is provided)

Permitted change:  State funded school or nursery*.


C2 (Residential Institutions)

Use/description of development: Residential accommodation and care to people in need of care, residential schools, colleges or training centres, hospitals, nursing homes.

Permitted change:  State funded school or nursery*.


C3 (Dwellinghouses)

Use/description of development:  C3(a) Use by a single person or a family (a couple whether married or not, a person related to one another with members of the family of one of the couple to be treated as members of the family of the other), an employer and certain domestic employees (such as an au pair, nanny, nurse, governess, servant, chauffeur, gardener, secretary and personal assistant), a carer and the person receiving the care and a foster parent and foster child.

C3(b): Up to six people living together as a single household and receiving care e.g. supportedhousing schemes such as those for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems.

C3(c) groups of people (up to six) living together as a single household. This allows for those groupings that do not fall within the C4 HMO definition, but which fell within the previous C3 use class, to be provided for i.e. a small religious community may fall into this section as could a homeowner who is living with a lodger.

Permitted change:  C4


C4 (Small Houses in Multiple Occupation)

Use/description of development: Small shared houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their only or 

main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Permitted change:  C3


Class D

D1 (Non-residential Institutions)

Use/description of development: Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Nonresidential education and training centres.


D2 (Assembly and Leisure)

Use/description of development: Cinemas, theatres, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or areas for indoor or outdoor sports and recreations (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used).

Permitted change:  State funded school or nursery*;Temporary (2 years) to A1, A2, A3 or B1


What is Sui Generis?

Certain uses do not fall within any use class and are considered 'Sui Generis'. Uses include betting offices, pay day loan shops, amusement arcades, casinos, theatres and agricultural buildings.

Sui Generis** (Casinos and Amusement Arcades / Centres)

Permitted change:  A3*; D2; C3*

Sui Generis** (Betting Offices and Pay Day Loan Shops)

Permitted change:  A1, A2, A3 or D2*;A1 & up to 2 flats (if a display window at ground floor level); A2 & up to 2 flats; Betting Offices and Pay Day Loan Shops & up to 2 flats; C3*; Temporary (2 years) to A1, A2, A3 or B1

Sui Generis** (Agricultural Buildings)

Permitted change:  C3*;

Flexible changes to A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1 or D2*; State funded school or nursery*.


*Subject to prior approval

**Whilst the most commonly found uses are contained within the 1987 Use Classes Order (as amended), there are many uses that are not specifically categorised by the four main use classes. These are classified as sui generis.

We have tried to illustrate some of the Sui Generis uses but they are not intended to be exhaustive. Sui Generis uses are their own specific use and planning permission is normally required for any change of use.

DISCLAIMER: This is a general guide only to the Use Classes at June 2017 and is not intended to be comprehensive or a substitute for taking detailed professional advice. No liability is accepted for the information it contains or for errors or omissions