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Since 1947, the use of all land and buildings has been controlled and policed by Local Authorities as an extension to central government. The current legislation is enshrined with the Town & Country Planning (use classes) order 1987 as amended in 2005.
The current use classification is briefly as follows:
A1 Retail- which generally covers most shops and town centre occupiers from supermarkets to fashion chains, post offices, internet cafes and sandwich bars(dependant on size and food).
A2 Financial and Professional Services- including estate agents.
A3 Restaurants and Cafes- where the primary purpose is for the sale and consumption of food on the premises.
A4 for drinking establishments (previously A3) catering specifically for pubs and bars.
A5 is for hot food takeaways and fast food establishments.
B1 covers offices in a business environment or over shops or serviced accommodation in either single use or multi-let buildings.
B2 covers a variety of general industrial uses.
B8 is for storage and distribution.
C1 covers Hotels.
C2 is for Residential Institutions.
C3 for Residential/Dwelling House.
D1 for non-residential institutions visited by the public and social services such as dentists, doctors, schools and colleges.
D2 for leisure including cinemas, bingo halls, concert halls and sports clubs.
Other uses may be prescribed as sui generic.
Since 2013 'permitted development' has allowed certain uses to apply for an automatic change of use with minimal paperwork, namely office to residential and A1 to A2 to A3 amongst them. Alterations to the building still requires additional measures and applications.
We can advise on the basis of the above planning classes and the likelihood of obtaining a change of use between classes, some of which are obtainable automatically.
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