Contact one of our advisors now Call 0800 088 6004

Reform to the Planning System for Commercial Properties

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

On 30 June 2020, the Prime Minister’s Build, build, build’ speech announced an intention to reform the planning system which includes wide ranging changes to the planning system.

These changes include provisions allowing more types of commercial premises to have total flexibility to be repurposed through reform of the Use Classes Order.

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 will amend the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 with effect from 1 September 2020. The amendments revoke Parts A and D of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order in relation to England. Instead, a new Schedule 2 is inserted, providing for new use classes, Class E (Commercial, business and service), Class F1 (Learning and non-residential institutions) and F2 (Local community).

Class E subsumes previous use classes which were specified in the Schedule to the Use Classes Order as Class A1 (Shops), Class A2 (Financial and professional services), Class A3 (Restaurants and cafes) and Class B1 (Business).

Class F1 and F2 subsume some of the previous use classes which were specified in the Schedule to the Use Classes Order as Class D1 (Non-residential institutions) and Class D2 (Assembly and leisure).

Class A4 (drinking establishments) and A5 (hot food takeaways) are now outside of the specified Use Classes and are “sui generis”, as are live music venues, cinemas, concert halls, bingo halls and dance halls (previously within Class D2).

Whilst the changes will allow for much more flexibility in how commercial premises are used, there are still some grey areas and only time will tell as to how some of the provisions will be interpreted.

Landlords of commercial properties will have to carefully consider in future how they define the permitted use in leases given these new wider use classes.

It will be interesting to see how the new regulations affect the beleaguered high streets – will it be for good or will it make the high street even more fragmented?

Ika Částka


Ika Částka


Ika is Head of the Commercial Property team and has been advising individuals and businesses across Northamptonshire since 1986, specialising in commercial, agricultural and rural property matters for both businesses and individuals.