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What usage class is my business?

We understand that there are many things that need to be considered with your business and your important decisions about location. When deciding on a location, the business class is important to understand so that you select a property applicable and aligned with your business. To help you make an informed decision we have included the information below to help explain things in more detail.

What usage class is my business?

Instead of attempting to pick through the details, the information set out below has been drawn off of the Planning Portal website CLICK HERE for more information and the original article.

Commercial properties are classified based on their intended use and activities they accommodate. These classifications, known as business usage classes, play a vital role in determining the suitability of a property for specific business operations, planning permissions, and zoning regulations. As a business owner or investor, understanding these usage classes is crucial for making informed decisions. In this article, we will delve into the different business usage classes in the UK and explore their significance.

These amended classes came into effect as of September 2020. As always it is worthwhile exercise to check the current class of the building against what your business category is. Any differences highlighted should then be followed up with the local authority and a change of use may need to be undertaken. Building regulations may also need to be adhered to, dependant on the usage class allocated.

Class B

  • B2 General industrial - Use for industrial process other than one falling within class E(g) (previously class B1) (excluding incineration purposes, chemical treatment or landfill or hazardous waste)

  • B8 Storage or distribution - This class includes open air storage.

Class C

  • C1 Hotels - Hotels, boarding and guest houses where no significant element of care is provided (excludes hostels)

  • C2 Residential institutions - Residential care homes, hospitals, nursing homes, boarding schools, residential colleges and training centres

  • C2A Secure Residential Institution - Use for a provision of secure residential accommodation, including use as a prison, young offenders institution, detention centre, secure training centre, custody centre, short term holding centre, secure hospital, secure local authority accommodation or use as a military barracks

  • C3 Dwellinghouses - This class is formed of three parts

    • C3(a) covers use by a single person or a family (a couple whether married or not, a person related to one another with members of the family of one of the couple to be treated as members of the family of the other), an employer and certain domestic employees (such as an au pair, nanny, nurse, governess, servant, chauffeur, gardener, secretary and personal assistant), a carer and the person receiving the care and a foster parent and foster child

    • C3(b) covers up to six people living together as a single household and receiving care e.g. supported housing schemes such as those for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems

    • C3(c) allows for groups of people (up to six) living together as a single household. This allows for those groupings that do not fall within the C4 HMO definition, but which fell within the previous C3 use class, to be provided for i.e. a small religious community may fall into this section as could a homeowner who is living with a lodger

  • C4 Houses in multiple occupation - Small shared houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their only or main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Class E - Commercial, Business and Service

In 11 parts, Class E more broadly covers uses previously defined in the revoked Classes A1/2/3, B1, D1(a-b) and ‘indoor sport’ from D2(e):

  • E(a) Display or retail sale of goods, other than hot food

  • E(b) Sale of food and drink for consumption (mostly) on the premises

  • E(c) Provision of:

    • E(c)(i) Financial services,

    • E(c)(ii) Professional services (other than health or medical services), or

    • E(c)(iii) Other appropriate services in a commercial, business or service locality

  • E(d) Indoor sport, recreation or fitness (not involving motorised vehicles or firearms or use as a swimming pool or skating rink,)

  • E(e) Provision of medical or health services (except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practitioner)

  • E(f) Creche, day nursery or day centre (not including a residential use)

  • E(g) Uses which can be carried out in a residential area without detriment to its amenity:

    • E(g)(i) Offices to carry out any operational or administrative functions,

    • E(g)(ii) Research and development of products or processes

    • E(g)(iii) Industrial processes

Class F - Local Community and Learning

In two main parts, Class F covers uses previously defined in the revoked classes D1, ‘outdoor sport’, ‘swimming pools’ and ‘skating rinks’ from D2(e), as well as newly defined local community uses.

  • F1 Learning and non-residential institutions – Use (not including residential use) defined in 7 parts:

    • F1(a) Provision of education

    • F1(b) Display of works of art (otherwise than for sale or hire)

    • F1(c) Museums

    • F1(d) Public libraries or public reading rooms

    • F1(e) Public halls or exhibition halls

    • F1(f) Public worship or religious instruction (or in connection with such use)

    • F1(g) Law courts

  • F2 Local community – Use as defined in 4 parts:

    • F2(a) Shops (mostly) selling essential goods, including food, where the shop’s premises do not exceed 280 square metres and there is no other such facility within 1000 metres

    • F2(b) Halls or meeting places for the principal use of the local community

    • F2(c) Areas or places for outdoor sport or recreation (not involving motorised vehicles or firearms)

    • F2(d) Indoor or outdoor swimming pools or skating rinks

Sui Generis 'Sui generis' is a Latin term that, in this context, means ‘in a class of its own’. Certain uses are specifically defined and excluded from classification by legislation, and therefore become ‘sui generis’. These are:

  • theatres

  • amusement arcades/centres or funfairs

  • launderettes

  • fuel stations

  • hiring, selling and/or displaying motor vehicles

  • taxi businesses

  • scrap yards, or a yard for the storage/distribution of minerals and/or the breaking of motor vehicles

  • ‘Alkali work’ (any work registerable under the Alkali, etc. Works Regulation Act 1906 (as amended))

  • hostels (providing no significant element of care)

  • waste disposal installations for the incineration, chemical treatment or landfill of hazardous waste

  • retail warehouse clubs

  • nightclubs

  • casinos

  • betting offices/shops

  • pay day loan shops

  • public houses, wine bars, or drinking establishments – from 1 September 2020, previously Class A4

  • drinking establishments with expanded food provision – from 1 September 2020, previously Class A4

  • hot food takeaways (for the sale of hot food where consumption of that food is mostly undertaken off the premises) – from 1 September 2020, previously Class A5

  • venues for live music performance – newly defined as ‘Sui Generis’ use from 1 September 2020

  • cinemas – from 1 September 2020, previously Class D2(a)

  • concert halls – from 1 September 2020, previously Class D2(b)

  • bingo halls – from 1 September 2020, previously Class D2(c)

  • dance halls – from 1 September 2020, previously Class D2(d)

Other uses become ‘sui generis’ where they fall outside the defined limits of any other use class. For example, C4 (Houses in multiple occupation) is limited to houses with no more than six residents. Therefore, houses in multiple occupation with more than six residents become a ‘sui generis’ use.

Guildcrest Commercial Logo - Light Industrial units for rental and for sale in Kent

Should you need any more information or if you would like to chat to our friendly and professional team, please not hesitate to contact us on 01843 588 215. Our full list of available commercial and light industrial units is available through our sales agent Guildcrest Estates who can be contacted by CLICKING HERE

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