New Changes To Town Centre Use Classes

Earlier this week, the Government published regulations to enact a raft of changes to the town centre use class system.

  • The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 will introduce three new broad use classes – Class E, Class F1 and Class F2 – in England only.
  • Class E – “commercial, business and service” – use class would subsume the existing Class A1 (Shops), Class A2 (Financial and professional services), Class A3 (Restaurants and cafes), and Class B1 (Business) use classes, the regulations say.
  • Class F1 relates to “learning and non-residential institutions” and includes any non-residential use for the “provision of education, for the display of works of art (otherwise than for sale or hire), as a museum, as a public library or public reading room, as a public hall or exhibition hall, for, or in connection with, public worship or religious instruction, as a law court”.
  • Class F2 relates to “local community” uses. These are listed in the regulations as “a shop mostly selling essential goods, including food, to visiting members of the public in circumstances where the shop’s premises cover an area not more than 280 metres square, and there is no other such facility within 1,000 metre radius of the shop’s location”.
  • An explanatory memorandum says that ‘shop’ is defined “as a shop mostly for the sale of a range of essential dry goods and food to visiting members of the public”. It adds that this “provides some protection for such shops while placing those shops found on high streets and town centres in the new ‘commercial’ class”.
  • F2 uses also include “a hall or meeting place for the principal use of the local community, an area or place for outdoor sport or recreation, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms, an indoor or outdoor swimming pool or skating rink”
  • Exemptions include any “public house, wine bar, or drinking establishment”, “drinking establishment with expanded food provision”, hot food takeaways, live music venues, cinemas, concert halls, bingo halls and dance halls.
  • The regulations come into force on 1 September 2020.
  • The Government says that Planning Practice Guidance will be updated to reflect the changes before they come into effect.
  • As ever, if you would like advice on the implications of these changes, then please book one of our planning surgeries.

There is further information on line: New laws to extend homes upwards and revitalise town centres.

(UPDATE 24.7.20)