New Use Classes Order 2020 Affecting Restaurants & Cafes

new use classes for commercial properties

Changes to the Use Classes Order in England which may have significant effect on Restaurant & Cafe Businesses

On July 2020, the Government introduced new planning reforms, which came into effect from 1st September 2020. This change to Town Centre Use Classes will provide greater flexibility for changes in uses (1987 Use Classes Order) without the need for planning permission with the aim being to support the high street resurgence.

From the 1st September 2020 a new use “Class E” will replace the following existing use classes:

  • Class A1 – shops (retail units)

  • Class A2 – financial and professional services;

  • Class A3 – restaurants and cafes; and

  • Class B1 – business.

This means, the above uses “will not need” to obtain planning permission for changes within this use class. An A1 use premises can be converted into an A3 premises without planning permission. However, to convert an A1 into A5 (hot food takeaways) will still require obtaining planning permission.

Please note: You may still need local council’s planning permission to install “an extractor” and landlord’s permission to “connect gas” to the unit. Hence, before you take on a old Class A1 unit for restaurant purpose, you must contact your local council. 

A4 (Pubs & Drink Establishments) and A5 (Hot Food Takeaways) fall under “Sui Generis”. They do not fall under any specific use class. A sui generis use may make it harder for takeaway operator clients to find premises given that any new tenant at the end of the term would need a change of use permission.

It is currently unclear whether a mixed restaurant and takeaway use (A3/A5) would now fall within the new E class or sui generis.

The “Three New Use Classes” are as follows:

Class E (Commercial, business and service) – including retail, restaurant, office, financial/professional services, indoor sports, medical and nursery uses along with “any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality”;

Class F.1 (Learning and non-residential institutions) – including non-residential educational uses, and use as a museum, art gallery, library, public hall, religious institution or law court; and

Class F.2 (Local community) – including use as a shop of no more than 280 sqm mostly selling essential goods, including food and at least 1 km from another similar shop, and use as a community hall, area for outdoor sport, swimming pool or skating rink.

Key points to be noted affecting restaurant and cafe businesses:

Planning Permission Not Required:

  1. A1 Use (retail unit) to Restaurant
  2. A2 Use (financial & professional) to Restaurant
  3. B1 Use (business) to Restaurant

Planning Permission Required:

  1. A1 Use (retail unit) to Hot Food Takeaways (old A5)
  2. A1, A2 & B1 to Pubs and Drink Establishments

Sources: Lichfields & Knight Frank

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