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Major changes afoot for UK high street use classes

Dinah Patel


United Kingdom

New planning regulations promise greater flexibility for properties to be repurposed as part of the government's Covid-19 recovery strategy.

On 21 July 2020, the UK government laid before Parliament new regulations that will make sweeping changes to the Use Classes Order – hailed as some of the biggest alterations to town centre planning in over 25 years.

The changes represent a complete overhaul of the current Use Classes Order, with the twin aims of:

(a) Better reflecting the increasingly diverse range of uses found on high streets and in town centres; and

(b) Allowing businesses the flexibility to adapt and diversify to meet changing demands.

The measures form part of the government’s plan to level up the country and help the UK recover from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, captured in the Prime Minister's pledge to “build back better, build back greener, build back faster”, and will be complemented by a scheme to accelerate infrastructure development across the UK

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 will come into force on 1 September 2020 and provide for three new uses classes:
  1. Class E (Commercial, business and service);
  2. Class F.1 (Learning and non-residential institutions); and
  3. Class F.2 (Local community).
The table below provides an overview of the changes.
Use Use Class up to 31 August 2020 Use Class from 1 September 2020
Shop not more than 280sqm mostly selling essential goods, including food and at least 1km from another similar shop A1 E
Financial and professional services (not medical) A2 E
Café or restaurant A3 E
Pub or drinking establishment A4 Sui generis
Take away A5 Sui generis
Office other than a use within Class A2 B1a E
Research and development of products or processes B1b E
For any industrial process (which can be carried out in any residential area without causing detriment to the amenity of the area) B1c E
Industrial B2 B2
Storage or distribution B8 B8
Hotels, boarding and guest houses C1 C1
Residential institutions C2 C2
Secure residential institutions C2a C2a
Dwelling houses C3 C3
Use of dwelling houses  by 3-6 residents as a 'house in multiple occupation' (HMOs) C4 C4
Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres D1 E
Schools, non-residential education and training centres, museums, public libraries, public halls, exhibition halls, places of worship, law courts D1 F.1
Cinemas, concert halls, bingo halls and dance halls D2 Sui generis
Gymnasiums, indoor recreations not involving motorised vehicles or firearms D2 E
Hall or meeting place for the principal use of the local community D2 F.2
Indoor or outdoor swimming baths, skating rinks, and outdoor sports or recreations not involving motorised vehicles or firearms D2 F.2

For further information on these changes and how they are likely to affect future planning developments, contact Fieldfisher planning expert, Dinah Patel.

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