Last edited 28 Sep 2020

Sui generis and planning permission

Sui generis is Latin for ‘of its own kind’. It is a term used to categorise buildings that do not fall within any particular use class for the purposes of planning permission.

The different use classes are set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. This stipulates that in terms of planning permission, if a use of land is to change within a use class, then this does not require planning permission. However, planning permission is usually needed where the change of use involves activities within the sui generis category. These include theatres, petrol filling stations, casinos, amusement centres, car hire businesses, and so on. See Sui generis for more information.

There are, however, permitted development rights that allow movement between some sui generis uses and other uses. There is a common misconception that changing the use from an existing use class to a sui generis class always requires planning permission. Permission is only required if the sui generis use is materially different from the existing one.

If there is any doubt, a lawful development certificate can be applied for. This must include a detailed and unambiguous description of the use, operations or other matter for which it is to be granted. The characteristics of the matter should be spelled out in detail to avoid future problems of interpretation.

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