Change of Use Planning Permission

A guide to where and when you might need to apply for Change of Use Planning Permission, and when you might be able to avoid it.


Change of use Planning Permission is needed when one kind of building is intended to be altered for use in a different capacity. For example, if you wish to turn a restaurant or shop into a dwelling, you will need Change of Use planning permission in order to do so.

All buildings and plots of land are categorised into various ‘Use Classes’ by The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. They are split broadly into Classes A, B, C, D, and Suis Generis.

Use Classes

Use classes can generally be categorised as follows, but this should be considered as a guide only as it is for the local planning authority to determine which category any particular building should be placed.

Class A

A1: Shops – Shops, hairdressing salons, retail warehouses, undertakers, post offices (excluding sorting offices), pet shops, travel and ticket agencies, sandwich shops, showrooms, domestic hire stores, dry cleaners, internet cafes, and funeral directors.

A2: Financial and Professional Services – banks, building societies, estate and employment agencies, and betting offices.

A3: Restaurants and Cafes - For sale of food and drink to be consumed on site – restaurants, snack bars, and cafes.

A4: Drinking Establishments – Pubs, wine bars, and other drinking establishments (excluding nightclubs).

A5: Hot Food Takeaways – For sale of hot food to be consumed off-site.

B1: Business – Offices (other than those covered by A2), product research and development processes, and light industry appropriate in a residential area.

B2: General Industrial – For industrial processes (apart from those in B1, excluding incineration purposes, chemical treatment, or landfill and hazardous waste).

B3: Storage or Distribution – Including open-air storage sites.

C1: Hotels – Hotels, guest and boarding houses where no significant care is provided (excludes hostels).

C2: Residential Establishments – Nursing homes, residential care homes, hospitals, boarding schools, residential colleges, and training centres.

C2A: Secure Residential Institutions – Use for providing secure residential accommodation, such as prisons, young offenders’ institutes, detention centres, secure training centres, short term holding centres, custody centres, secure hospitals, secure local authority accommodation, and military barracks.

C3: Dwellinghouses -

C3 A: Use by a single person or family unit, an employer and domestic employees (such as au pairs, nannies, governesses, servants, chauffeurs, gardeners, secretaries, and personal assistants), a carer and cared-for person, and foster parents with foster children.

C3 B: Up to six people cohabiting as one household and receiving care such as supported housing schemes for people with learning difficulties or mental health issues.

C3 C: Groups of up to six members cohabiting as one household who do not fall under C4 definition, but do fall under C3, such as religious communities, or homeowners with lodgers.

C4: House in Multiple Occupation – Small houses shared by three to six unrelated person, as their main or sole residence, sharing basic amenities such as kitchens and/or bathrooms.

D1: Non-residential Institutions – Health centres, creches, clinics, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), libraries, museums, halls, worship buildings, church halls, law courts, and non-residential education and training centres.

D2: Leisure and Assembly – Cinemas, music and concert halls, dance and bingo halls, swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums, indoor and outdoor sports facilities.

Sui Generis: Those which are not included in Use Classes A-D2, including theatres, multiple-occupied houses, hostels providing little significant care, scrap yards, petrol stations, shops selling or displaying motor vehicles, retail warehouse clubs, nightclubs, taxi businesses, launderettes, amusement centres, and casinos.

Change of Use Planning Permission

Change of use planning is not always necessary. This is assuming that the change is from one type of use to another type of use which is considered very similar by the relevant local authority. Planning permission is not required in cases where the current and intended uses of the building or land are classed within the same Use Class. Change of Use planning is also unnecessary where The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order states that a change of class is allowed to another specified class.

For example, it would be perfectly acceptable to convert a pet shop into a hairdressing salon without change of use planning as both of these uses are considered to be within the same Class. It is also possible for a restaurant to be converted into shop as the Use Class Order allows for this change without planning being granted.

Apart from the cases listed above, a change of use will almost always require change of use planning permission. If the two uses do not fall within the same Use Class, planning should be assumed to be needed, although it is wise to check the rules according to your local authority to avoid any potential confusion, mistakes, or unnecessary costs. You should expect that most external building work surrounding a change of use conversion will require planning permission.

Building Regulations

You may not consider some of the work which you intend to carry out to be ‘building work’, but building regulations may still apply. Contact your local Building Control office for advice.


This is a guide only, and the rules and regulations which apply in your area or to any particular building may differ from those listed here. Contact your Local Planning Authority for details.

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