white concrete building during daytime

Change of Use

When considering using land or a building for a different purpose, change of use planning is essential.

Often land and buildings fall into different planning use classes and dependent on which one applies, a change of use might occur without the need for planning permission.

Different use classes are set out within the Use Classes Order 1987, which has been subject to several revisions since, and outline which class a particular building use falls within and which other uses are possible within that use. For example, a shop may change to a cafe without planning permission, but a change of use planning application is required for say a shop that changes to a hot food takeaway. If you are uncertain whether a building’s existing use is lawful, or that what you are planning is lawful under permitted development rights, you can apply to the local authority for a ‘Lawful Development Certificate’ (LDC).

If external alterations are required, it may be that a full planning permission may be required from the Local Authority. Additionally, various uses are able to move to other use classes under Prior Approval and Permitted Development.

Prior Approval means that approval has been sought from the local authority in terms of issues such as highway impact, flood risk, contamination risks, the design or external appearance of the building, noise and whether the location of the building is impractical or undesirable and allow, for example residential extensions up to 6m (8m for a detached property).

Permitted Development Rights allow some buildings to be extended or changed without planning permission. Most notably, Office to Residential conversion without the need for a full planning application process thereby saving considerable time and money.