What use do I require?

It is sometimes the case that planning permission is needed to change from one use class to another, although there are exceptions where the legislation does allow some changes between uses.

The following list is not comprehensive and gives a guide to the types of use which may fall within each use class. It is for local planning authorities to determine, in the first instance, depending on the individual circumstances of each case, which use class a particular property use falls into.


Contained within the Town and Country Planning Act Use Class Order 1987 commercial premises have permitted uses which are grouped in to the following categories:-

A1 Shops:

Shops, hairdressers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors.

A2 Financial and professional services:

Financial services such as banks and building societies, professional services (other than health and medical services) and including estate and employment agencies.

A3 Restaurants and cafés:

For the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises - restaurants, snack and cafes.

A4 Drinking establishments:

Public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments where the primary purpose is the sale and consumption of alcoholic drink on the premises

A5 Hot food takeaways:

For the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises.

B1 Business:

(a)Offices (other than those that fall within A2).

(b)Research and development – laboratories, studios.

(c)Light industry.

B2 General industrial:

Use for industrial process other than one falling within class B1

B8 Storage or distribution:

Storage and distribution centres including open air storage.

C1 Hotels:

Hotels, boarding and guest houses, residential schools and training centres, provision for residential accommodation.

C2 Residential institutions:

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

C2A Secure Residential Institution:

Use for a provision of secure residential accommodation, including use as a prison, young offenders institution, detention centre, secure training centre, custody centre, short term holding centre, secure hospital, secure local authority accommodation or use as a military barracks.

C3 Dwellinghouses

Dwellings for individuals, families or not more than six people living together as a single household.

C4 Houses in multiple occupation

Small shared houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their only or main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.

D1 Non-residential institutions:

Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Non residential education and training centres.

D2 Assembly and leisure:

Cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or area for indoor or outdoor sports and recreations (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used).

Sui Generis:

There are many uses which do not fall within any of the main categories outlined such uses include: Scrap yards. Petrol filling stations selling and/or displaying motor vehicles. Retail warehouse clubs, nightclubs, launderettes, taxi businesses, amusement arcades and casinos.


The use class order can be subject to interpretation and this summary does not purportto be comprehensive the order can be subject to change, we recommend professional advice is taken where appropriate.

This is an introductory guide and is not a definitive source of legal information.

This guidance relates to the planning regime for England. Policy in Wales may differ. If in doubt contact your Local Planning Authority.

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