If you would like to advertise on the PAL website, please call us on 03007 729 808

Use Classes - The Different Types of Development


These are the categories that different types of development are put into within the planning system. There are basically four general categories which are lettered from 'A' to 'D'; these are:

  • A Retail and Service.
  • B Business and Employment.
  • C Residential.
  • D Community and Leisure.

These four classes will cover most types of development, but some land uses are classified 'sui generis' which means 'in a class of its own' and this includes uses such as petrol stations, vehicle scrap yards and laundrettes.

Land uses are grouped into different Use Classes because they would have different impacts upon their neighbouring areas; for example, a general industrial use (Use Class B2) would create traffic, noise or fumes that would not be suitable within a residential area (Use Class C3). Therefore, a planning application would be needed to see if the change of use would be acceptable.

There are also more specific land uses that are contained in the four Use Class categories; the table below lists these in more detail and shows where changes of use can be made without applying for planning permission.

  • A1 Shops
  • A2 Financial and Professional Services - bank, estate agent.
  • A3 Restaurants and Cafés
  • A4 Drinking Establishments - E.g., Public houses, wine bars.
  • A5 Hot Food Takeaways

  • B1 Business - offices, light industry
  • B2 General Industrial
  • B8 Storage or Distribution

  • C1 Hotels
  • C2 Residential Institutions - care homes, hospitals, residential colleges
  • C2A Secure Residential Institution - prison, young offenders' institution
  • C3 Dwelling Houses - this class is formed of 3 parts:
(a) - Use by a single person or a family.
(b) - Up to six people living together as a single household and receiving care e.g. supported housing schemes.
(c) - Up to six people living together as a single household. This allows for those groupings that do not fall within the C4 HMO definition, e.g., a small religious community or a homeowner who is living with a lodger.
  • C4 Houses in Multiple Occupation - Shared dwelling houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their only or main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.
  • D1 Non-Residential Institutions - health centres, day nurseries, museums, libraries, halls, places of worship.
  • D2 Assembly and Leisure - cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo halls, swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums.
  • Sui Generis - Certain uses do not fall within any use class and are considered 'sui generis'. Such uses include scrap yards, petrol filling stations, night clubs, casinos and the sale of motor vehicles.

A change of use can be made within each Use Class without the need for planning permission; for example, one type of office within Use Class B1 can be changed to another type of B1 office or a flower shop could change to a bookshop within an A1 retail unit without the need for planning permission.

There are also other permitted changes between Use Classes, these are:

From: To:

A2 (where there is a ground floor display window) A1

A3 A1 or A2

A4 A1 or A2 or A3

A5 A1 or A2 or A3

B1 (where floor area is less than 235 sq m) B8

B2 B1

B2 (where floor area is less than 235 sq m) B8

B8 (where floor area is less than 235 sq m) B1

C4 C3

Casino (sui generis) D2

Any change between the 4 Use Class groups; for example, from A2 to B8 or from B1 to A4 would need planning permission.

The detailed rules on changes of use can bee seen by clicking the following links:

Town & Country Planning (Use Classes Order) 1987

Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2005

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2010


Laws and Regulations

What is Planning Permission and do I Need it?

How do I Make a Planning Application?