Use Classes an Introduction

Within any commercial property transaction, it is important to be aware first of the existing use allowed by the Planning Acts, and any changes that may be required to acquire a new Use Class. Use Classes are determined under the Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order 1987, as amended in 2006. This order introduces and classifies a number of specific uses, e.g. a retail shop, under one or other of the Use Classes. In some cases, a property may appear to have one use class, but turn out to have another.

An example is an Estate Agent in a shopping centre or shopping parade. This would be classified as class A2 (financial services), even though the majority of its neighbours on the same shopping area would be under class A1 (retail shops). In a shopping centre, it is quite common to see premises from each of four or five separate use classes. This is especially important because if the correct enquiries about whether the type of business can be carried out at that premises, a new business can face being shut down, or more likely there business being hampered or delayed after having opened while waiting for a reclassification from the local authority. Of course, if a lease has been signed before this point, the fact that the local authority will not allow the business to operate during that period does not prevent the landlord from claiming the rent.

Use Classes Table of Contents

Class Code Class Use Class Description of Development Class Permitted Change
A1 Shops Shops, Retail Warehouses, Post Offices, Ticket and Travel Agents, Hairdressers, Funeral Directors & Undertakers, Domestic Hire Shops, Dry Cleaners, Sandwich Bars Sandwiches or other cold food purchased and consumed off the premises, Internet Cafes and Cyber Cafes. No Permitted Change except to mixed use as a shop and single flat and vice versa.
A2 Financial & Professional Services Financial Services (Banks, Building Societies and Bureau de Change), Professional Services (excluding Health or Medical Services) (Estate Agents and Employment Agencies). Other Services Betting Shops. Principally where services are provided to visiting members of the public. A1 (where there is a ground floor display window) plus as above.
A3 Restaurants & Cafes Restaurants, Snack Bars and Cafes Use for the sale of food for consumption on the premises. A1 or A2.
A4 Drinking Establishments Use as a Public House, Wine-Bar or other Drinking Establishment. The primary purpose is the sale and consumption of alcoholic drink on the premises A1, A2 or A3.
A5 Hot Food Takeaway Use for the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises. A1, A2 or A3.
B1 Business a) Offices rather than in a use within Class A2 (Financial and Professional Services).
b) Research and Development Laboratories, Studios.
c) Light Industry.
B8 (where no more than 235 Sq M).
B2 General Industrial General Industry (Other than Classified as in B1). The former 'Special Industrial' Use Classes, B3 B7, are all now encompassed in the B2 Use Class. B1 (unlimited) or B8 (where no more than 235 Sq M).
B8 Storage or Distribution Storage or Distribution Centres. B1 (where no more than 235 Sq M).
C1 Hotels Hotels, Boarding Houses & Guest Houses. Development falls within this class if 'no significant element of care is provided'. No Permitted Change.
C2 Residential Institutions Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Residential School and Training Centres. Use for the provision of residential accommodation and care to people in need of use. No Permitted Change.
C2a Secure Residential Institutions 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. No Permitted Change.
C3 Dwelling houses Dwellings for individuals, families or not more than six people living together as a single household. No Permitted Change.
D1 Non-Residential Institutions Medical & Health Services, Creche, Day Nursery, Day Centres, Museums, Public Halls, Libraries, Art Galleries, Exhibition Halls, Non-residential Education and Training Centres, Places of Worship, Church Halls, Law Courts. No Permitted Change.
D2 Assembly & Leisure Cinemas, Concert Halls, Sports Halls, Swimming Baths, Skating Rinks, Gymnasiums, Bingo Hall. Other Indoor and Outdoor Sports and Leisure Uses, not involving motorized vehicles or firearms No Permitted Change.
Sui Generis General There are many use classes that are not specifically categorised by the four main use classes. These uses are classified as sui generic. For example: Petrol Stations, Retail Warehouse Clubs, Amusement Arcades, Launderettes, Taxi or Vehicle Hire Business & the Selling and Displaying of Motor Vehicles, Nightclubs, Theatres, Hostels, Builders Yards, Scrap Yards, Casinos. No Permitted Change (except Casinos: permitted change from Sui Generis to D2)