The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No.757) were introduced by the government on 20 July, coming into effect on 1 September 2020. Making radical changes to the 1987 Use Classes Order for commercial properties, the new regulations have been designed to allow greater agility and a modern approach, in an attempt to tackle the growing issue of the decline of the high street.
The most significant change brought in by the Regulations is the introduction of a new use class – entitled ‘Commercial, Business and Service’, to be referred to as ‘Class E’- which replaces the previous Classes A1, A3, B1 and D2.
Encompassing a wide range of uses, including retail, restaurants, cafes, offices, gyms, childcare, indoor sport and recreation and medical or health services, changing operations within the new Class E is ‘permitted development’ and therefore does not require planning permission.
Exclusions to the new class include drinking establishments (formerly A4), ‘hot food takeaways’ (A5) and cinemas and bingo halls (D2), which now fall within the ‘Sui Generis’ use class, requiring bespoke planning permissions on a case by case basis.
The new rules for Class E also not only permit for a change of use within the class, they also allow a mix of uses within buildings and premises, which could see some buildings being occupied by different types of tenants or a single unit having one use during the day and another in the evening.
The Government has stated that the changes will provide flexibility for businesses to adapt and diversify to meet changing demands. At a time when there is more uncertainty in the commercial property market and many tenants are looking at reviewing their space requirements in light of changes to the way they work brought on by Covid-19, the changes could provide a much-needed boost to the commercial property market.
Clearly these changes will also provide a great deal of flexibility for both landlords looking to secure tenants for their properties and the tenants that occupy them. We have already had a number of clients looking to take advantage of the new rules, although landlords will need to consider whether they are happy for tenants to take advantage of the new flexibilities. If they are not, an amendment to the lease for new or existing tenants may be required to refer specifically to the descriptive use of the property rather than its class alone.
The new rules are within their infancy and awareness of the new system is still growing amongst both landlords and tenants. If you have any queries on how the new rules might affect an existing tenancy agreement or are looking to take up a new tenancy following the introduction of the rules, please get in touch with us.
Our commercial property team, led by James O’Donnell, are able to provide straight talking advice to both landlords and tenants.
To access our Commercial Property and Commercial/Corporate Law services please contact James O’Donnell at our head office at Appleby’s Business Centre, 1-3 Mossley Road, Saddleworth, Grasscroft on 01457 761 320 or email James O’Donnell at firstname.lastname@example.org