A1 Use Class – Retail and Shops

The A1 use class (generally known as general retail) includes shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes. NB: See also the other uses including A2, A3, A4, A5

The A1 use category is a key part of villages, towns and cities and continues to undergo change, with different forces impacting on the viability and vitality of the A1 use category and the retail sector as a whole. Internet shopping, business rates, changing lifestyles and the regeneration of many places each have their own impacts.

At Plande, we have been involved with many aspects of the A1 use category from creating new premises (either as stand alone or as part of a wider mixed use development) or changing from an A1 use (for example to other business or residential uses) where such spaces are deemed no longer viable.

Permitted Development Change of or to an A1 Use

While many changes of use (especially if building works are incorporated) will require planning approval, there are many changes that can be done under permitted development (or Prior Approval). NB: This is not an exhaustive or definitive list and specialist advice and clarification from the LPA should be sought.

Currently, it is possible to change from an A1 use to:

  • A2
  • A3 up to 150mand subject to Prior Approval 
  • D2 up to 200m2 and subject to Prior Approval and only if the premises was in A1 use on 5th December 2013
  • mixed use comprising an A1 or A2 use and up to 2 flats may also be permitted subject to meeting certain conditions
  • C3 up to 150mand subject to Prior Approval.

In addition, it is also possible to change from an A2, A3, A5 or Sui Generis (including betting shops and payday loan shops) (with Prior Approval).

A1 Use Class Retail and Shops Planning

The following case studies provide a small sample of the different types of A1 Use Class (Retail and Shops) we have been involved with.

Mixed Use A1 Use Class Development

Mixed Use Development comprising 11 Apartments and c.5,300 sq ft A1 Retail

The catalyst for this mixed use Apartment and A1 Use retail development was the relocation of an existing dental practice from a poorly converted and inadequate facility housed within a run down Victorian property on the site.

This approach was developed following detailed appraisals of the site to identify and unlock its true economical potential. The relocation of the dental practice facilitated the procurement for the new large retail units facing the main road with eleven apartments above.

This modernist intervention creates a family of buildings, which respond to the contemporary design of its immediate neighbours, rather than being a pastiche of the more traditional buildings found on in the vicinity. This approach helps to strengthen the importance of this site and reinforce the link to the commercial town centre.

Local Planning Authority: Trafford Council

see also: Mixed Use Development; A1 Retail; D2 Leisure; Speculative Residential

Mixed Use A1 Use Class Retail Development

5 storey Mixed Use development comprising Ground Floor A1 Use Retail with Residential Apartment units above, Manchester

The brief called for an innovative and creative solution to this tight cleared infill site in the heart of the Northern Quarter in Manchester City Centre. With a site area of approximately 55m2 and frontage of only 5.5m the internal layout was critical to maximise the development potential of the site. With only 1 main façade suitable for windows, we developed an efficient layout maximising every aspect of the design.

Project Challenges: Conservation Area; Extremely Tight Site dimensions, No external areas for servicing, DDA regulations

Project Achievements: 5 storeys in a predominantly 3 and 4 storey area, negotiated a reduced requirement of Design for Access 2 including removing the lift from the scheme

Local Planning Authority: Manchester City Council

see also: Mixed Use; Brownfield; Conservation Area

A1 Use Class change of use to Residential

Conversion and Part New Build, Hale, Altrincham

The existing building contained a self-contained apartment, B1 Office suite and A1 Use Retail Unit. The approved scheme removed recent unsympathetic additions and replaced with sensitive extensions to create two contemporary family homes

Local Planning Authority: Trafford Council

see also: B1 Office; A1 Retail

A1 Use Class change of use to A2 Professional Services

Change of Use from Hairdressers to Architect Studio


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This page provides an introduction only and is not a definitive statement of the law and should therefore not be relied upon.
The information above relates to England only. Policies across the rest of the UK may differ.
Contact your Local Planning Authority for advice and confirmation before any works are carried out.