What are the new regulations concerning the Use Classes Order?

When do the new regulations come into force?
1st September 2020

Who is affected by the new regulations?
The amendments apply to England only.

What are the main amendments?
The regulations revoked Part A and Part D of the Schedule which relate to Use Classes A1 (shops), A2 (Financial and professional services), A3 (Restaurants and Cafes) and D1 (Non-residential institutions), D2 (Assembly and leisure).

Schedule 2 has been introduced in two parts to establish three new regrouped use classes;

Class E – Commercial, Business and Service; subsumes the previous A1, A2, A3, B1 (Business) and some of the previous classifications of Class D1 and D2. Its purposes, described in Schedule 2 in more detail relate in general to all uses which can been carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit.

Class F.1 – Learning and non residential institutions; including schools, non-residential education and training centres, museums, public libraries, public halls, exhibition halls, places of worship, law courts

Class F.2 – Local community; incorporates some of the previous D2 uses, and shops that are for the sale of essential goods subject to being less than 280 sq. m and at least 1 km away from a similar shop.

Finally, the previous A4 (Public houses or drinking establishments), A5 (Hot food takeaway) Use Classes as well as some D2 uses including cinemas and concert halls have now shifted to Sui Generis.

What happens to the remaining Use Classes?
The residential institutions (C classes), general industrial (B2) and storage and distribution (B8) use classes remain unchanged.

What is the government’s assessment of impact?
The government has introduced these reforms to the use classes which are primarily designed to help support vibrant, mixed use town centres, although they apply to all uses of land and buildings, in town centres and elsewhere, across England.

The introduction of Class E will provide property and business owners the flexibility to adapt and diversify by changing between any uses falling within the new class without having to obtain planning permission. The impact on businesses is to reduce costs and time burden relating to planning applications while the impact on the public sector should be a reduction of administrative costs and time of processing planning applications.

On the contrary, the F Classes are intended to ensure that those uses which are important to local communities have some protection through the planning system because the scope to change use without permission is more limited.

Similarly, those moved to Sui Generis will provide local authorities greater control over these uses with the requirement of planning permission. This has been described as attempt to ensure that local pubs are protected, to prevent the proliferation of take away shops in certain areas and to protect local community assets such as live performance venues which once lost are hard to replace.

Overall, the measures are deregulatory. The hope is to support businesses walk the path of economic downturn as well as ensure local communities and high streets are preserved.

What is the effect to Permitted Development Rights (PDR)?
On or after the enforcement date any reference to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 are to continue to be interpreted as if those references were to the use classes applied in the initial Schedule.

Saving provisions will be made to retain the effect of existing permitted development rights that were in place prior to the new provisions. As such, any former A1 shop will continue to benefit from any permitted development rights prior to the amendments and also benefit from the increased flexibility of Class E.

These provisions will remain in place until 31st July 2021 when revised permitted development rights will be introduced.