Widespread changes to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 comes into effect from 1st September 2020. The Government said the main driver of change has been the need to enable a repurposing of buildings on high streets and town centres. Classes A, B1 and D1, applicable to retail, office and non-residential institutions and assembly and leisure uses respectively, are removed and new use classes introduced in their place. The new Class E encompasses commercial, business and service and allows for a mix of uses to reflect changing retail requirements. It will allow a building to be used flexibly by having a number of uses taking place concurrently or by allowing different uses to take place at different times of the day. Changes to another use, or mix of uses, within this class will not require planning permission.
The new F.1 class apply to learning and non-residential institutions and F.2 class to local community uses respectively. The new ‘Local Community’ use – Class F2 – has been introduced to ensure important community facilities are protected through the planning system. These include shops which are not more than 280sqm selling essential goods and at least 1000m from another similar shop. Again, changes of use within this class do not require planning permission.
Some uses which were previously given their own use class (A4, A5, D2) have been moved into the ‘sui generis’ category, meaning they will from now belong to no specific class. Changes to and from these uses will be subject to full local consideration through the planning application process.
The residential (C classes), general industrial (B2) and storage and distribution (B8) use classes remain unchanged, except for a new cross reference in the B2 class to the new Class E ‘commercial’ use class.
The change of use between Use Classes are also allowed for under the GPDO. There are no changes proposed to the GPDO at present but the Regulations allow for this and advise that from 1 September 2020 until 31 July 2021 (this is defined as the ‘material period’ in legislation so may be referred to as such), change of use permitted development rights set out in the GPDO will continue to be applied based on the existing use classes, as they exist on 31 August 2020.
Planning application before 1 September 2020
If prior to the commencement of the material period (1 September 2020 – 31 July 2021), a planning application was submitted, or was deemed to be submitted, to the local planning authority which referred to uses or use classes on 31st August 2020, that application must be determined by reference to those uses or use classes.