Property Use Classes

*Please Note – Property Use Classes evolve regularly and appropriate diligence is highly recommended.  The following article simply provides an overview.

Within the very large field of property, there are several categories and sub-categories of building.  The reason for this is that council planning departments use these classes when planning residential, commercial and retail developments in an urban or rural environment.  It is far easier to refer to the use classes as they are, rather than a description such as ‘Industrial’ or ‘retail’.  I have personally been faced with which particular category a trade-counter falls into….retail or industrial?

The classes are issued by The Secretary of State as he/she is ultimately responsible for all UK planning matters (a method of appeal against planning decisions is to address the Secretary of State).  In most cases, converting a property so that it moves from one use class to another, needs the grant of planning permission before work is allowed to go ahead.  There are some exceptions however, such as a flat can be added to a retail property provided it is used in association with the retail property.

The table of Use Classes is as follows:

Use Class Use Description Is Change Permitted?



Sale of goods and cold food, retail warehouses, hairdressers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, domestic hire shops, funeral directors, dry cleaners, internet cafes No change of use without permission, except to A1 plus single flat



Financial and professional services



Professional (excluding health and medical services) and financial services (banks and building societies); other services appropriate in a shopping area where the services are provided principally to visiting members of the public Change to A1 permitted only if there is a ground floor display window



Restaurants and cafes

Sale of food and drink for consumption on premises, e.g. in restaurants, cafes Change to A1 or A2 permitted


Drinking establishments

Public house, wine bar or other drinking establishment Change to A1 or A2 or A3 permitted




Hot food takeaways


Sale of hot food for consumption off the premises Change to A1 or A2 or A3 permitted


Sui Generis


Launderettes, taxi businesses, car hire businesses, filling stations, scrapyards, shops selling or displaying motor vehicles for sale, retail warehouse clubs No change of use permitted










a Offices other than financial and professional services providing for the visiting members of the public

b Research and development

c Other industrial processes appropriate in a residential area



Change to B8 (only up to 235 m2 of floor space) permitted





General industrial


General industry, not within B1 Change to B1 or B8 (only up to 235 m2 of floor space)



Storage or distribution

Storage or distribution centres Change to B1 (only up to 235 m2 of floor space) permitted
Sui Generis


Work registerable under Alkali etc, Works Regulation Act No change of use permitted





Hotels, boarding and guest houses, provided that care is not provided No change of use permitted





Residential institutions


Residential accommodation for provision of care (e.g. old age homes); residential schools and colleges and training centres; hospitals and nursing homes No change of use permitted



Secure residential accommodation


Prison; young offenders institutions; detention centres; secure training centres; custody centres; short-term holding centres; secure hospitals; secure local authority accommodation; military barracks No change of use permitted






Dwellinghouses for individuals, families and up to six individuals living as a single household Subdivision of dwellinghouses into two or more dwellinghouses not permitted

Houses in multiple occupation

Use of a dwellinghouse by not more than six residents as a house in multiple occupation Change to C3 permitted


Sui Generis Hostels No change of use permitted

Non-residential institutions


Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, consulting rooms (not attached to doctor’s house); museums, libraries, art galleries, public and exhibition halls; non-residential schools, colleges and other educational centres; public worship or religious instruction; law courts No change of use permitted



Assembly and leisure


Cinemas, dance and concert halls; swimming pools, skating rinks, gymnasiums; other indoor and outdoor sports and leisure uses, bingo halls No change of use permitted


Sui Generis


Theatres, amusement arcades and centres, fun fairs, nightclubs, casinos (as from 6 April 2006) No change of use permitted


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