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Key changes for the planning system in England

August 13, 2020
Blake Wheeler Z Bhu08Hdzh Y Unsplash

As a part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has introduced several, significant changes to the planning system. The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 were introduced by the government on 20 July, and take effect on 1 September 2020, and these new Regulations make big changes to the 1987 Use Classes Order.

Below are the key changes to the planning system in England:

  • There will be new use classes, which are intended to allow more flexibility to occupiers.
  • There will now be a new Class E: Commercial, Business and Service (including existing A1, A2, A3 and B1 classes and part of D1 and D2 classes. The previous uses classes, including shops, offices and gyms, will therefore be able to change without the need for planning permission from 1 September 2020. 
  • Class E will allow for buildings to have multi-uses in whole or in parts.
  • There will be implications for landlords from the new Class E. A lease will often say what the tenant can do in the premises by reference to the planning use class. Therefore, a landlord should now think if they would be happy for a tenant to take advantage of the planning changes.
  • There is new class F. Use Class F1 is for Learning and Non-Learning Institutions; and this includes uses for the provision of education and the display of works of art (other than for sale) and will include most buildings in public use. 
  • Use Class F2 will include group public activity such as swimming pools and skating rinks (but not gyms which as mentioned is within Class E). 
  • The other use classes, previously parts A and D, are now sui generis uses, so no changes will be permitted development. This could have a significant impact on businesses covered by these uses - pubs or takeaway food to name a few.
  • The changes to the planning rules do not override existing legal agreements (such as restrictive covenants on use or agreements under section 106). Therefore, consideration of the whole position is needed before assuming you can take advantage of the relaxed rules.


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