Changes to Change of Use

For guidance on any matters relating to commercial property, contact JMW today by calling us on 0345 872 6666.

With a view to stimulating growth and increasing the availability of residential property, the government has recently announced its intention to extend permitted development rights, which is intended to make it easier for building owners to change the use of their property without a formal application. Previously, it was necessary to apply for permission before making a change in the use of a building.


The new rules, The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013, apply to England only, with the exception of several ‘key areas’ that are excluded, such as certain parts of Manchester and twelve London boroughs. The rules will take effect from 30 May 2013 and are expected to continue for 3 years.

Where there is likely to be a significant impact upon transport or highways, or where the area is in a safety hazard zone or high flood risk area, there will need to be prior approval. The changes also do not apply to listed buildings, and an application will still be required in these situations.


The main relaxation in change of use is from office to residential uses. This is accompanied by relaxations in change of uses:

  • For buildings currently solely used for agricultural purposes to other non-residential uses, subject to a maximum size of 500m2; however, information must be provided to the local planning authority before the change of use is made
  • Between B1 (business/office) and B8 (warehouse) classes and from B2 (industry) to B1 and B8 from 235 m2 to 500 m2
  • For temporary use for two years, where the use is low impact, between shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), restaurants and cafes (A3) and offices (B1) without the need for planning permission and also from drinking establishments (A4), hot-food takeaways (A5), non-residential institutions (D1) and cinemas, concert halls etc (D2) for up to 150m2
  • To provide C1 uses (hotels, boarding and guest houses) permitted development rights to convert to C3 uses (dwelling houses) without the need for planning permission
  • A temporary change of use for one academic year of buildings to house state-funded schools will be permitted to ensure that schools are able to open whilst planning applications are on-going
  • New state-funded schools from offices (B1); hotels (C1); residential institutions (C2); secure residential institutions (C2A); and assembly and leisure (D2). Any subsequent change from a new state-funded school to other uses in the non-residential institutions class (D1) will not be permitted. These changes will be subject to a prior approval process to mitigate any adverse transport and noise impacts.

Contact JMW

If you would like to discuss any matters relating to change of use, or to commercial property in general, contact us today. Do so today by calling us on 0345 872 6666 or filling in our contact form.

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