Will you benefit from changes to planning regulations from 1 September?
Jo Morgan, Partner and Head of Commercial Property at Coodes Solicitors, outlines changes to planning regulations, which will create more flexibility to change the use of a commercial property.
Following the recent changes to some permitted development rights, brought in by the Government in the last few months, the latest Regulations to the Use Classes take effect from 1 September 2020.
The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 were approved on 20 July. They make significant changes to the current 1987 Use Classes Order, giving more flexibility to use change without the need for planning permission. The updated regulations have been announced at a time when there is a ground shift in lifestyles, broad reviews of office space and buildings as well as changes the landscape of high street retail.
What are the new use classes?
The regulations introduce three new use classes:
- Class E (Commercial, business and service)
This amalgamates retail, restaurants and cafes, office, financial/professional services, medical and nursery uses among others.
- Class F.1 (Learning and non-residential institutions)
This includes non-residential educational uses, libraries, public halls, museum and religious institutions.
- Class F.2 (Local Community)
This includes small shops as well as swimming pool, skating rink or areas for outdoor sport.
Have any use classes been removed?
As a result of the introduction of these new classes, Parts A and D of the original order have been deleted. Class E now incorporates many of the classes that were previously separate. Changing the use of a property within this new class will no longer require planning permission or permitted development. This could result in a wide range of activities in locations such as business parks and see step away from protected town centre retail on our high streets.
What about existing classes?
The new regulations will also affect those classes that currently fall within Parts A and D that now become what is known as ‘sui generis’ uses. This means that they do not fall into any particular use class. Permitted development does not extend to any changes to or from these classes and so for changes of use here you would likely now require formal permission. Those developments that could be adversely affected by being more restricted here would include pubs, hot food takeaways, cinemas and bingo halls.
There are transitional considerations that come into play until 31 July 2021 for certain changes, such as permitted development prior approvals and pre-existing Article 4 Directions. If you are seeking to develop a property in one of these classes, is important to get advice to ensure you understand what is required.
What are the implications for those with commercial property or land?
While several classes remain unchanged, businesses and commercial landlords and tenants would be wise to note the changes and recognise the opportunities for diversification that these may bring.
Landlords and landowners granting Leases, conditional contracts and option agreements need to consider the effect of the flexibility that Class E in particular brings and would be wise to specifically reference usage rather than class references. Getting expert legal advice will help ensure you understand the implications of the new regulations and that your contracts and agreements are drawn up appropriately.