CHANGING THE USE OF LAND OR BUILDINGS : DO YOU NEED PLANNING PERMISSION ?
As in most parts of planning law, the answer is not simple.
Section 28 of the Planning Act * defines that planning permission is required if you wish to carry-out any development of land. Section 26 defines the meaning of development, which includes “any material change in the use of any buildings or other land“. So if you want to change the use you make of land or a building, planning permission might be required.
But the Government acknowledged that many changes of use do not have any adverse impact on neighbours, communities or the environment, so the “Use Classes Order “ * groups together various uses into 11 Classes. The Classes and the uses they contain as shown in the table below. No planning permission is required if the change you want to make remains within the same class : it is not a “material” change of use. Hence use of this word in Section 26. But if your new use would result in a change from one class to another, planning permission is usually required.
There is another category of uses, known as “sui generis” uses, which are specifically excluded from all the use classes. These are un-neighbourly uses which it would unwise to allow to start unregulated. Some of these uses are listed in the Use Classes Order : see list under the table.
It is still not quite as simple as this. The Government then took the view that some material changes of use (i.e. from one class to another) do not have any adverse impact on neighbours, communities or the environment, so a mechanism is used to remove the need for planning permission for these changes. This is known as “permitted development”. The General Permitted Development Order* grants planning permission for a list of 72 classes of development which otherwise would require formal planning permission from the planning authority. Four of these classes relate to changes of use, and are indicated in the third column of the table below. It should be noted that they only apply in the direction indicated and not in reverse. Two “sui generis” uses : sale or display of motor vehicles, and hot-food carry-out shops, have permitted development rights to change to uses within the Use Classes Order (see bottom of table).
The Classes in the Use Classes Order, and permitted changes from class to class are shown in the table below.
|Use Class||Description of uses||“Permitted development” changes|
|Class 1||Shops Retail sale of goods other than hot food; post office; travel or ticket agency, sale of cold food for consumption off the premises, hairdresser, undertaker, the display of goods for sale, hiring of domestic goods or articles, laundrette or dry cleaner, or for the reception of goods to be washed. All where the sale,display or service is provided principally to visiting members of the public.||None|
|Class 2||Financial professional and other services Financial professional and other services appropriate to be found in a shopping centre. These typically include betting shops, lawyer, accountant, estate agent, health centre, dentist, doctor or vet surgery. (where all are principally used by members of the public).||To Class 1|
|Class 3||Food and drink Provided that the food or drink is consumed on the premises.||To Classes 1 and 2|
|Class 4||Business Offices (other than those described in Class 2), research and development of products and processes, which can be carried out in any residfential area without detriment to amenity.||To Class 6 with limit of 235 square metres.|
|Class 5||General industrial Carrying out an industrial process, other than one which would fall into Class 4.||To class 4, or to Class 6 with limit of 235 square metres.|
|Class 6||Storage and distribution||To Class 4|
|Class 7||Hotels and hostels Hotel, boarding house, guest house, hostel with no significant element of care; other than premises licensed for sale of alcohol other than to residents or diners eating on the premises; and other than a Class 9 (houses) use.||None|
|Class 8||Residential institutions Residential accommodation with care, hospital, nursing home; residential school, college or training centre.||None|
|Class 9||Houses House (but not a flat) occupied by a single person, people living together as a family, or as a household of not more than 5 people. Bed and breakfast or guesthouse with bedroom limits.||None|
|Class 10||Non-residential institutions Creche, day nursery, day centre; provision of education; display of works of art (but not sale or hire); museum, public library, public or exhibition hall; or public worship, religious instruction, or social activities of a religious body.||None|
|Class 11||Assembly and leisure Cinema, concert hall, bingo hall, casino, dance hall, discotheque, swimming bath, skating rink, gymnasium, or for indoor and outdoor sport and recreation not involving motorised vehicles or firearms.||None|
|Hot food shops (not classified)||To Classes 1 or 2|
|Display or sale of motor vehicles (not classified)||To Class 1 with limit of 235 square metres.|
Planning permission is always required for uses not contained in any class (these are known as “sui generis” uses). The exception is the permitted development changes allowed for hot foot and motor vehicles shown at the bottom of the table. The Use Classes Order contains a list of specifically excluded classes, which are : theatres, amusement centres, funfairs, sale or display of motor vehicles, sale of fuel for motor vehicles, taxi / car hire businesses, scrap yards, mineral storage and distribution, public houses, works registrable under the Alkali Act, and hot-food carry-out shops.
* “The Planning Act” is The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended)
“The Use Classes Order” is The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997
“The General Permitted Development Order” is The Town and Country Planning (General
Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 (as amended).