'Project Speed'- Use Class Changes

By Hollie Plumb, 23rd October 2020

With our high streets, towns and cities facing daunting times, the introduction of ‘Project Speed’ by the Government may be the shining light some businesses desperately need in order to innovate and change the way they use their business space.  

What has changed?

From 1 September 2020, there are new Use Classes which takes effect in England under The Town and Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020. This legislation introduces three new Use Classes for commercial property. These changes are part of the Government’s ‘Project Speed’, promoting greater flexibility in changes to the uses of buildings within town and city centres without the need to go down the laborious route of applying for planning permission.  

Why the change?

With our high streets and cities facing unprecedented significant challenges, the Government has been keen to enable the repurposing of buildings. The new Use Classes allow for many buildings and land to transition in use to a broader range of uses, without the need to obtain planning permission.

How will this impact me?

Let us work through a scenario to best showcase the change. Prior to 01/09/2020, if you had a gym and you were looking to change the use of the property to a restaurant, the steps you would need to take would involve the application for planning permission to seek to change the use. As of 01/09/2020, gyms and restaurants are now within the same use class and therefore, no planning permission is required.

Each of the three new classes (E, F.1 and F.2), cover a broader range of uses than each class covered previously. 

What happens to existing Use Classes?

Where a building or land is being used for a purpose within one of the original Use Classes, that building or land will be treated as if it is being used for the corresponding new Use Class. However, the previous Use Classes will remain relevant for certain changes of use which fall under permitted development rights until 31 July 2021.

Please do bear in mind however, when considering changing the use a building is being put to it is not just the planning use that needs to be looked at.  If you are a business tenant, you must always refer back to any permitted uses set out in your lease as you will also be dictated by the lease terms around use and are likely to have to seek and obtain the consent of your Landlord before the new use can take effect.

How do I know which Use Class I need?

Below is a summary of the main business uses, although this is not a complete guide.


Use class until 31 August 2020

Use class from 1 September 2020




Financial and Professional Services



Food & Drink



Business (office, research and development and light industrial process)



Non-residential institutions (medical or health services, crèches, day nurseries and centres)



Assembly and Leisure (indoor sport, recreation or fitness, gyms)



Non-residential institutions (education, art gallery, museum, public library, public exhibition hall, places of worship, law courts)



Shop no larger than 280sqm (selling mostly essential goods and at least 1km from another similar shop); community hall, outdoor sport/recreation area, indoor or outdoor swimming pool, skating ring



Public house, wine bar, drinking establishment


Sui generis

Hot Food Takeaway


Sui generis

Cinema, Concert Hall, Bingo Hall, Dance Hall, Live music venue


Sui generis

For further information, please contact our Commercial Team on 01249 475880.

Hollie Plumb

Trainee Solicitor, Commercial