Change of Use

A change of use to a building or land doesn’t always require planning permission if both the present and proposed uses fall within the same ‘class’ as defined in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987.

It’s also possible to change use between some classes without making an application.

Applications for planning permission are always required for material changes of use involving amusement centres, theatres, scrap yards, petrol filling stations, car showrooms (except for material changes of use from car showrooms to A1 uses), taxi and care hire businesses and hostels.

If you're unsure or would like more information on change of use, please contact us or visit the change of use page on the planning portal.

Use classes: 

  • Shops (A1)
  • Financial and Professional Services (A2)
  • Food and Drink (A3-5)
  • Business (B1)
  • General Industrial (B2)
  • Distribution and Storage (B8)
  • Hotels (C1)
  • Residential Institutions (C2)
  • Dwelling Houses (C3)
  • Houses in Multiple Occupation (C4)
  • Non-Residential Institutions (D1)
  • Assembly and Leisure (D2)

Other changes of use will require planning permission.

Below is a list detailing each ‘use class’ and the changes that are permitted without planning permission within these. 

A1 : Shop

Shops, post offices, travel/ticket agents, hairdressers, funeral directors, dry cleaners, sandwich bars.
No permitted change

A2 : Financial and Professional Services

Banks, building societies, estate/employment agencies and other financial and professional services.
Permitted change to A1 where a ground floor display window exists

A3 : Restaurants and Cafes

Restaurants, snack bars and cafes.
Permitted changes to A1 or A2

A4 : Drinking Establishments

Pubs and bars.
Permitted change to A1, A2 or A3

A5 : Hot Food Take-Aways

Permitted change to A1, A2 or A3


Sui Generis

Shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles, retail warehouse clubs, launderettes, taxi or vehicle hire businesses, amusement centre and petrol filling stations
No permitted change

B1: Business

Offices, research and development, light industry appropriate in a residential area.
Permitted change to B8 where no more than 235sq m

B2: General Industrial

General Industry
Permitted change to B1 or B8 where no more than 235sqm

B8: Distribution, including Open Air Storage

Warehouse, distribution centres, repositories.
Permitted change to B1 where no more than 235sq m

Sui Generis

Any works that can be registered under the Alkali, etc Works Regulation Act 1906.
No permitted change


Hotels, boarding and guest houses.
No permitted change

C2: Residential Institutions

Residential care homes, hospitals, nursing homes, boarding schools, residential colleges and training centres.

C3: Dwelling houses

This class has 3 parts:
  • C3(a) - covers use by a single person or a family (a couple whether married or not, a person related to one another with members of the family of one of the couple to be treated as members of the family of the other), an employer and certain domestic employees (such as a nanny, nurse, governess, servant, chauffeur, gardener, secretary and personal assistant), a carer and the person receiving the care and a foster parent and foster child.
  • C3(b) - up to 6 people living together as a single household and receiving care for example, supported housing schemes, such as those for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems.
  • C4 - Houses in Multiple Occupation. Small shared dwelling houses occupied between 3 and 6 unrelated individuals, as their only or main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.
    Permitted change to C3

Sui Generis

No permitted change.

D1: Non-Residential Institutions

Surgeries, health centres, crèches, nurseries, day centres, art galleries, museums, libraries, halls, churches and non-residential education and training centres.
No permitted change

D2: Assembly and Leisure

Cinemas, concert halls, bingo and dance halls, casinos, swimming pools, skating rinks, gymnasiums or sports arenas (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used). No permitted change.

Sui Generis

Theatres, nightclubs. No permitted change.

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