‘What’s the Use?’ How to make the most of changes to the use classes order

‘What’s the Use?’ How to make the most of changes to the use classes order

The Covid pandemic has justifiably dominated the news for the past 9 months and it’s no secret that coronavirus has affected the property industry in many ways. One that may have escaped people’s attention has been the raft of changes to UK planning policy – the biggest set of changes in a generation – which came into force on September 1st.

At Hindwoods, we have been busy getting up to speed with the new changes (and the devil in the detail) and advising clients and tenants about what this means for them – particularly any opportunities that may have opened up.

To help clients understand the new Use Classes, Georgia Mason, one of our commercial surveyors, has produced a useful guide – you can download your free copy here.

A new ‘Class E’ opens up opportunities for tenants and landlords

In an attempt to revitalise already failing retail areas and simplify commercial planning the government has abolished many of the old Use Classes governing (amongst others) Office, Light industrial, retail and restaurant and combined them all into a new class.

The new Class E allows for a mix of uses that allows commercial buildings to move in sync with market trends. Changes to another use, or mix of uses, within this class do not require planning permission.

So, a retail store may now trade as a restaurant. And a light industrial unit as a nursery. Or they may all take part in the same building without planning consent.

What does this mean for property investors, landlords, and tenants?

This should lead to an increase in potential uses for many vacant properties. As a landlord looking to let a commercial space, this new system can open up your property to a much wider audience. This in turn decreases void periods and increases the odds of letting your unit.

Since September, Hindwoods has been looking for new ways to help clients unlock properties to this wider audience. We’ve been guiding tenants through the new system and making the changes clear in any marketing we do for our clients.

As well as changes to Class E, there are changes to F1 Learning and non-residential institutions, F2 Local community uses and Sui generis, a use class of its own. We’re helping clients make the most of new changes in these areas too.

For our developer clients, it’s worth noting, that from 1 September 2020 until 31 July 2021, change of use permitted development rights set out in the GPDO will continue to be applied based on the existing use classes (as they exist on 31 August 2020). New permitted development rights will be introduced from 1 August 2021.


For a snapshot of the new use classes please download our handy guide.  If you have any questions about how this impacts your business please contact Georgia or one of the team.