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Use Class E - Commercial, Business and Service

Class E Planning was introduced in England to create a more flexible use.

What is Use Class E?

Use Class E Planning is a commercial class generally covering shops, offices, gyms, restaurants, workshops and other types of commercial buildings. It broadly incorporates the previous A1, A2, A3, B1, and part of both D1 and D2.

Part A of Use Class E covers Commercial, Business and Service:

  • (a) for the display or retail sale of goods, other than hot food, principally to visiting members of the public,
  • (b) for the sale of food and drink principally to visiting members of the public where consumption of that food and drink is mostly undertaken on the premises,
  • (c) for the provision of the following kinds of services principally to visiting members of the public—
    • (c)(i) financial services,
    • (c)(ii) professional services (other than health or medical services), or
    • (c)(iii) any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality,

    (d) for indoor sport, recreation or fitness, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms, principally to visiting members of the public,

    (e) for the provision of medical or health services, principally to visiting members of the public, except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practitioner,

    (f) for a creche, day nursery or day centre, not including a residential use, principally to visiting members of the public,

    (g) for—

    • (g)(i) an office to carry out any operational or administrative functions,
    • (g)(ii) the research and development of products or processes, or
    • (g)(iii) any industrial process,
    • being a use, which can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit.
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Can I change use within Class E?

The key benefit of Use Class E is that it facilitates a variety of uses within one use class ,without the need to seek planning permission for a change of use.

Use Class E makes it easier to change the use of a building without planning permission because it allows for a wide range of uses within the same category.

If you have a building that is currently used for one of the purposes listed under Use Class E, you can change its use to another purpose on that list without having to apply for planning permission. This saves you a lot of time and money, and can make it easier to adapt your business or building to changing needs.

However, not all buildings have the same rights.

For example, if a previous planning permission restricted certain uses, those restrictions may still apply, even though the building is now Class E. It is important to check with your local planning authority to confirm your rights.

Change of use – Class E

Some changes of use to or from Class E are allowed without planning permission, but others require prior approval. The specific rules can be complex and change frequently, so it is best to have your specific requirements reviewed by a professional.

A Certificate of Lawfulness application can be used to confirm the existing or proposed use of a building.

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Does Use Class E Apply in Wales?

No, Use Class E currently only applies to England.

At Plande, we have been involved with a variety of commercial, business and service projects, which now fall under Class E Planning, including new build, extensions and mixed-use buildings comprising multiple uses.

Please see the relevant sector pages for more information relating to specific elements.

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Disclaimer: 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. All images used are for illustrative purposes only. Read the full disclaimer here.

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