Simon Dalingwater
Simon Dalingwater, director of Adair Paxton.

Good news for high streets following changes to commercial property use

From Tuesday businesses will be better enabled to find new premises following major changes to commercial property classes.

From 1 September, retail units, cafes, restaurants, offices, clinics, health centres, nurseries, gyms, lots of indoor recreation centres and light industrial units in England will all have the same E classification, meaning they can all be used for other purposes without the need to apply for planning permission.

The newly introduced regulations, known as The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020, replace the previous system which had been in place since 1987. Under the new regulations, classes A1, A2, A3, B1, D1 and D2 have all been incorporated into class E.

According to leading independent property firm Adair Paxton, which sells and lets a full range of commercial property, this overhaul of legislation will serve revive the high street after a challenging trading period.

Simon Dalingwater, director of Adair Paxton, said: “This is the biggest shake up of planning classes that we’ve seen in 30 years. It should help to revive local highstreets, at a time when many need new purpose, as well as making it much easier for new and growing businesses to find suitable premises.

“Until now, if an occupier wanted to use a former shop as a café for example, they would have to apply for a change of use from A1 to A3. This could take up to 12 weeks and cost hundreds of pounds and often the landlord would not be prepared to wait.

“The new E classification now enables a much wider range of businesses to occupy a vast range of properties. It will also bring more variety into highstreets because now businesses such as yoga studios, day centres and professional services companies can all occupy former retail units.

“This is good news for landlords, potential occupiers and highstreets, because it ultimately means redundant properties and units can immediately be repurposed and given a viable future.”

Schools, museums, public libraries, places of worship, exhibition halls, community meeting centres and leisure centres now come under F1 or F2 classifications, to protect community facilities. Many other premises still need planning permission to change their use.

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