Change of use for buildings

There are clear rules about how buildings can be used. To change the use of a building in the Borough, you may need to apply for planning permission. In some cases it may not be possible to change the use at all.

Change of use rules

A building or land does not need planning permission for change of use if both the present and proposed uses fall within the same ‘class’ as defined in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as Amended).

It is also possible to change use between some classes without making an application for planning permission as indicated in The General Permitted Development Order. It should be noted that a number of these changes requires an application to seek the Council’s prior approval.

Applications for planning permission are always required for changes of use involving amusement centres, laundrettes, theatres, scrap yards, petrol filling stations, car showrooms, minicab/taxi and car hire businesses, retail warehouse clubs, and hostels and night clubs.  Casinos also always need planning permission unless being converted to a D2 Use.

Applications for planning permission are always required for changes of use from premises in a mixed use, a common example is a delicatessen or coffee bar which offers food for eating on the premises (A1/A3 use).

Before you negotiate a lease or buy a property, you should always check whether you would need planning permission for your intended use and your chances of getting it, even if the vendor, agent or landlord says the change will be permitted.

Check further guidance about change of use on the Planning Portal.

Use classes and permitted changes

Table of use classes and permitted changes

Use class Types of premises Permitted changes
A1: Shops Shops, post offices, travel/ticket agents, hairdressers, funeral directors, dry cleaners, sandwich bars

Pemitted change for 2 years only to flexible A1/A2/A3/B1

Permitted change to A1 & up to 2 flats

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

Pemitted change for 2 years only to flexible A1/A2/A3/B1

Permitted change to A1 & up to 2 flats

Permitted change to A2 & up to 2 flats

A3: Restaurants and Cafes Restaurants, snack bars and cafes

Permitted changes to A1 or A2

Pemitted change for 2 years only to flexible A1/A2/A3/B1

A4: Drinking Establishments Pubs and bars

Permitted change to A1, A2 or A3

Pemitted change for 2 years only to flexible A1/A2/A3/B1

A: Sui Generis

Shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles, retail warehouse clubs, launderettes, taxi or vehicle hire businesses, amusement centres, petrol filling stations and night clubs No permitted change
B1: Business Offices, research and development, light industry appropriate in a residential area

Permitted change to B8 where no more than 500sq m

Permitted change to C3 from  B1(a) Offices subject to Council’s prior approval

Pemitted change for 2 years only to flexible A1/A2/A3/B1

B2: General Industrial General industry Permitted change to B1 or B8 where no more than 500sq m
B8: Distribution, including Open Air Storage Warehouse, distribution centres, repositories Permitted change to B1 where no more than 500sq m
B: Sui Generis Any works registrable under the Alkali, etc Works Regulation Act 1906 No permitted change
C1: Hotels Hotels, boarding and guest houses No permitted change
C2: Residential Institutions Residential care homes, hospitals, nursing homes, boarding schools, residential colleges and training centres No permitted change

C2A: Secure Residential Institutions

Secure residential accommodation including a prison, young offenders institution, secure hospital, military barracks 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

Pemitted change for 2 years only to flexible A1/A2/A3/B1

D2: Assembly and Leisure

Cinemas, concert halls, bingo and dance halls, swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or sports arenas (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used) Pemitted change for 2 years only to flexible A1/A2/A3/B1

D: Sui Generis

Theatres, nightclubs, casinos

Casino permitted change to D2

Updated: 11 August 2015