The government has announced a radical overhaul of the current Use Classes Order, which should enable change of uses more easily and enhance the letting prospects of many vacant buildings.

The new system will come into effect from 1 September 2020. Previous use classes A1/A2/A3/B1/D1/D2, which includes the likes of retail, office, medical, gyms and light industrial, will now all fall under a single use class of ‘E’ Commercial Business and Service.

There are also two further new use classes. ‘F.1’ (Learning and non-residential institutions) which will be separated from other former D1 uses and ‘F.2’ (Local community) which is currently in D2.

These changes should provide a boost to properties that have struggled to let in there existing guise. There are often buildings that may be suitable for alternative uses but occupiers have previously been put off by an often drawn out and costly planning process. In particular these changes should help our evolving retail and leisure markets, by allowing alternative businesses to operate from them.

The new legislation has made some exceptions as you would expect. Uses that might be considered of a ‘more disruptive’ nature to their surrounding environment, such as pubs, takeaway restaurants and bingo halls will now fall under Sui Generous use, which will continue to require planning permission.

The changes are summarised in the following schedule.

For further information contact Drake Commercial on 01604 620616.

Tom Drake, Partner. September 2020.