Last edited 03 Dec 2015

Use class designation for land and buildings

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order categorises uses of land and buildings. Developments may not be used for purposes that are not within the use class for which they received planning permission. Changing the use of a development from one class to another may require planning permission, although changes of use may be permitted without the need for a planning application for certain allowable uses (for example changing a restaurant into a shop). For a schedule of permitted use class changes, see guidance on the Planning Portal and Permitted development.

Use classes are defined as follows (see The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order Schedule):

  • A1. Shops.
  • A2. Financial and professional services.
  • A3. Food and drink.
  • B1. Business.
  • B2. General industrial.
  • B3. Special industrial group A (registrable under the Alkali, etc. Works Regulation Act).
  • B4. Special industrial group B (getting, dressing or treatment of minerals carried on, in, or adjacent to a quarry or mine).
  • B5. Special industrial group C (burning bricks or pipes; burning lime or dolomite; producing zinc oxide, cement or alumina; foaming, crushing, screening or heating minerals or slag; processing pulverized fuel ash by heat; producing carbonate of lime or hydrated lime; producing inorganic pigments by calcining, roasting or grinding).
  • B6. Special industrial group D (distilling, refining or blending oils; producing or using cellulose or using other pressure sprayed metal finishes; boiling linseed oil or running gum; the use of hot pitch or bitumen; stoving enamelled ware; producing aliphatic esters of the lower fatty acids, butyric acid, caramel, hexamine, iodoform, napthols, resin products, salicylic acid or sulphonated organic compounds; producing rubber from scrap; use of chlorphenols or chlorcresols as intermediates; manufacturing acetylene from calcium carbide; manufacturing, recovering or using pyridine or picolines, any methyl or ethyl amine or acrylates).
  • B7. Special industrial group E (boiling blood, chitterlings, nettlings or soap; boiling, burning, grinding or steaming bones; boiling or cleaning tripe; breeding maggots; cleaning, adapting or treating animal hair; curing fish; dealing in rags and bones; dressing or scraping fish skins; drying skins; making manure; making or scraping guts; manufacturing animal charcoal, blood albumen, candles, catgut, glue, fish oil, size or feeding stuff for animals or poultry from meat, fish, blood, bone, feathers, fat or animal offal; melting, refining or extracting fat or tallow; preparing skins for working).
  • B8. Storage or distribution.
  • C1. Hotels and hostels.
  • C2. Residential institutions.
  • C3. Dwellinghouses.
  • D1. Non-residential institutions (medical or health services, crêche, day nurseries or day centres, education, the display of works of art (otherwise than for sale or hire), museums, public libraries or public reading rooms, public halls or exhibition halls, public worships or religious instruction).
  • D2. Assembly and leisure (cinemas, concert halls, bingo halls or casinos, dance halls, swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasium or areas for sports or recreations).

The description of these classes is for guidance only. It is the responsibility of the local planning authority to decide which class a use falls into, depending on its particular circumstances.

NB ‘Sui generis’ buildings are those that do not fall within any particular use class. The Latin term 'sui generis' means ‘of its own kind’. See sui generis for more information.

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