New Use Class E – A ray of Hope for Britain’s Highstreets?

What is Class E use?

Introduced by the government in mid-2020, the new use Class E in the Use Class Order 1987 (as amended) covers establishments formally included in classes A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional) and A3 (restaurants and cafes).

Some properties from categories D1 (non-residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) have also been moved into this new class.

What Does this Mean?

As explained in the Town and Country Planning Act Order 1987, planning permission is not required for a change in use from one type of establishment to another falling within the same category (except for Sui Generis use class or if there are restrictions on the property).

This means that if you wish to convert your shop into another use within the new Class E or vice versa, for example, you will no longer need to apply for planning permission or prior approval. Prior to the introduction of this new class, you may have have had to gain permission or prior approval due to  separate categories.

Why has it been Introduced?

The planning process can be complicated, often with stringent conditions that make flexibility difficult, if not impossible. The new Class E use allows for greater adaptability predominantly for our Highstreets.

Businesses are more likely to be successful if they’re better able to diversify and adapt as demand changes. With public attitudes to shopping shifting following the pandemic, the introduction of this new class is perfectly timed.

In practice, the introduction of Class E could mean the difference between a failing shop becoming another boarded up property and it being successfully sold to a promising restaurant owner. In theory, then, Class E should be a great boost to the economy.

Who Should be Aware of the Change?

If you own a property that was formerly in the A1, A2, A3, D1 or D2 use category, be sure to check whether your type of establishment has been moved into the new Class E.

Please note that though most properties within A1, A2 and A3 have been moved to Class E, only some in the D1 and D2 classes have.

If your property has been transferred to this new class, you could have a much larger market should you choose to rent or sell the property in the future.

What’s the catch?

Not all buildings will fall under Class E, even if they were previously A1, A2, A3, D1 and D2.  For example, in order to protect education and community assets, new use classes have been formed, F1 and F2. F1 takes in half of the old D1 Use Class, and includes educational establishments, places of worship, libraries and museums.  And the F2 class groups together meeting halls, swimming pools and playing fields.

Fundamentally Use Class F2 also includes what would be considered shops servicing the essential needs of local communities recognising the importance of small, local shops to their communities. This is defined as a shop mostly for the sale of a range of essential dry goods and food to visiting members of the public where there is no commercial class retail unit within 1,000m and the shop area is no larger than 280m2.

Also be aware that where a property is in two use classes, then it will generally be classed as sui generis, ie: unique.

Are There any Time Sensitive Issues?

New permitted development rights, have been introduced, take a look at our Town Planning, the Basics….Permitted Development & Use Class FREE eBook for more information.  We’ll also cover these changes in another Blog.

However be aware that the revised use class order includes transitional provision which retains the effect of the permitted development rights based on the classes that were in place prior to these 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 take effect.

Are There any More Changes to Consider?

Pubs and bars, takeaways and cinemas and live music venues have been newly classified as sui generis, meaning they are individual uses within their own class (not a grouping of uses).

This means that these types of venues, alongside nail bars, beauty salons and betting shops need to apply for planning permission to be allowed to move to a new premises not already occupied by the same type of establishment.

B2 (general industrial), B8 (storage and distribution) and C (housing) classes haven’t seen any new changes.

Related Content

If you want to know how shopping habits have changed from pre-pandemic times take a look at our blog about this: Changing Shopping Habits in a Post-COVID World: Where Does Planning fit in?

If you’re unsure how this could effect your property CONTACT US for a no obligation chat.