Last time we shot videos for our social media and wrote the accompanying blogs I aimed to talk about the different use classes for commercial property and the importance of planning ahead to make sure that you are either looking at the right type of property or that you will be able to gain the correct planning use by way of planning consent or permitted development. But, just as we were about to release the video, Boris came along and ripped up the Blueprints and introduced the new “E Class” Planning Consent. This meant that we had to pull that video at the 11th hour as it was no longer relevant or accurate.

What that means though is that today we are back I’ve got all you need to know about the new “E Class” (not to be confused with a Mercedes)!

Previously, we had a multitude of planning use classes to cover a range of areas, but many of these have now been merged together to create this new use class. Whilst, like with everything in life, there are a number of caveats to fall into this new change, the essence of the situation is that a number of previous use classes have all been rolled in together. This means that in most instances planning is not required to change between these uses.

The uses in question cover a lot of what was previously A1 (retail), A2 (financial/professional services), A3 (restaurant) and B1 (office), and parts of D2 (indoor sports) and D1 (medical and nursery). These areas of commercial property will now fall under the new E Class.

The new class will therefore look to create fluidity between retail, restaurant, office, financial services, indoor sports and indoor nursery services and eradicate the need for planning consents to change the use.

In regards to what was previously A4 and A5 use, this has now become Sui Generis for the time being, which will also include live music venues, cinema, concert and bingo halls. Sui Generis is where the use falls outside of a traditional use class standard box and always requires additional planning permission for the change. It is traditionally used for things like betting shops to control where they are placed within communities. It’s currently not clear at the moment as to whether mixed restaurant and takeaway use will fall within the new E Class or Sui Generis, so in this capacity, it would be wise for parties to take advice from a planning consultant in this respect.

One thing to bear in mind with these changes is that whilst a property may have the use you require other factors such as landlords consent and planning consent for matters such as extraction still need to be taken into consideration.

All in all, my personal opinion is that the new E Class is a very positive measure that will allow users to diversify where they operate without the need for lengthy and costly planning applications.

The best bet when you have any concerns or questions about necessary planning permissions is to speak with a reputable planning consultant, but we are always here to discuss your property needs.