The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020/757 came into effect on the 1st September 2020. It had the effect of revoking a number of the well-established previous use classes and reorganising them into much broader classifications.
One of the most radical changes in the Use Class Order amendments is introduction of Class E Commercial Business and Service. Becoming known as the “Everything Else” classification, it has grouped together what would previously have been considered A1(Shops), Class A2 (Financial and professional services), Class A3 (Restaurants and cafes) and Class B1(Business). It also includes uses such as indoor sport and gyms, medical centres and creches which would previously have been within Class D1 (Non-residential institutions) and Class D2 (Assembly and leisure).
The effect of this change is to broaden the uses that can take place within a building or premises without it constituting development and therefore not requiring planning permission.
These changes provide greater flexibility for businesses to adapt to changing needs. Some have suggested these changes are anticipated as being short lived, to enable the high street to recover from the effects of COVID19. However, the high street was already suffering an existential crisis before the effects of lockdown and reduced footfall from the pandemic.
There is a legal challenge to this dramatic change, along with other permitted development rights that have been altered, the case being made that the new rules have been introduced without proper consultation and without parliamentary debate. A hearing is due between 8th October 2020 to 15th October 2020 to consider if permission is to be granted for the claim to be heard and if it is, for a substantive hearing to proceed.
In the meantime, the new rights remain in force.