What is Change of Use Planning?
Change of use planning is necessary when a change in the use class of a property is desired. This can involve an alteration of the existing use class to a different use class. In most cases, a change of use planning application requires planning permission.
However, there are exceptions where planning permission is not necessary as the change of use is covered under permitted development or prior approval.
The requirements of obtaining planning permission or proceeding under permitted development can be advised by a planning consultant. If the change of use planning also involves external changes to the building, planning permission will be required for those changes as well.
The process of change of use planning can be complex and it is important to understand the constraints and application legislation/planning policy before appraising an opportunity. A quote for your change of use planning can be obtained in less than 60 seconds by entering your requirements into our online quote calculator.
Types of Change of Use Planning
When considering change of use planning, it is important to understand the different types of use classes and how they relate to the intended use of the building. A Lawful Development Certificate can be obtained to determine the existing use class of a building. However, this certificate is not compulsory and obtaining it can be complex. Therefore, it is recommended to engage a planning consultant to advise on the necessary requirements.
Use classes are defined under the Town and County Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 and are divided into different categories. The importance of change of use planning is to ensure that there is a sufficient number of buildings within a certain use class in a given area to support the local community.
Some of the most common types of use classes are:
- A1 (shops)
- A2 (professional and financial services)
- A3 (restaurants and cafes)
- A4 (drinking establishments)
- A5 (hot food takeaways)
- B1 (business – offices, research and development, light industrial)
- B2 (general industrial)
- B8 (storage and distribution)
- C1 (hotels)
- C2 (residential institutions) / C2A (secure residential institutions)
- C3 (dwelling houses)
- C4 (small houses in multiple occupation)
- D2 (assembly and leisure)
Process for Change of Use Planning
The first step in change of use planning is to determine if planning permission is required. Depending on the existing use class and proposed change of use, planning permission may not be necessary. However, even if planning permission is not required for change of use, planning permission may still be necessary for external alterations.
Once an assessment has been made, a planning consultant can be consulted, and an application can be made if necessary. Change of use planning may not require a planning application and can instead be handled through prior approval if the change of use is covered under permitted development. The local planning authority must confirm this option. In some cases, local planning authorities may have put in place an Article 4 Directive which may apply in certain geographical locations. If this is the case, planning permission will be required regardless of permitted development rights.
A change of use planning application usually takes around eight weeks to process, but it can take longer for more complex changes. The local planning authority will advise on the processing time.
Reasons to Apply for Change of Use Planning
Applying for change of use planning is important to avoid breaching planning control regarding the occupation of the property. If planning permission is not obtained, the local planning authority may enforce against you. Protection against enforcement may be possible and is related to the length of time the premises have been used in their current use. A planning consultant can advise on the protections available, which differ