Commercial Property Usage

Last updated: 8 August 2018

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Our commercial property solicitors are often asked about commercial property usage by clients. Here we answer your most pressing questions about commercial property use classes. Changing the usage, and whether you can live in a commercial property.

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  1. Commercial property use classes

Commercial property use classes

Commercial property use classes are categories of property usage. For example, A1 classification means the property can be used as a shop and so on – as seen in the table below.

Here’s a list of all the commercial property use classes under the current legislation:

A1 – shops B1 – Businesses C1 – Hotels D1 – Non-residential institutions
A2 – Financial and professional services B2 – General industrial C2 – Residential institutions D2 – Assembly & leisure
A3 – Restaurants and cafes B3 – B7 – special industrial group A-E C2A – Secure residential institutions Sui Generis – uses that don’t fall in other categories
A4 – Drinking establishments B8 – Storage and distribution C3 – Dwelling houses  
A5 – Hot food takeaways   C4 – Houses in multiple occupation  

 

Can you change usage on a commercial property?

When you buy (or lease) a commercial property, you’re only allowed to use that property for the authorised use. For example, a class A3 building cannot be used for general industrial use. If you do wish to change the authorised planning use of the property for (say) general industrial use, you need to obtain planning permission from the local authority.

However, in some circumstances, you can change the planning use of a property without obtaining planning permission since the change is considered so minor that automatic permission is given under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

An example of automatic permission is when there is a change in class from A3, A4 or A5, to class A1 or A2.

If you do change the planning use of a leased property you may also required the landlord’s consent to do so.  You need to check the terms of your lease.

Can you live in commercial property

Whether you can live in your commercial property depends on whether it can be used for residential dwelling.

If your property isn’t a dwelling, for example class C1, C2, C3 or C4 use, you would need to change the use of the property to be able to live in it. Generally, the change in use would require planning permission but you can obtain automatic planning permission if the conversion falls within the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

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