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The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on Tuesday 01 September 2020, making several changes to the previous use class system, including the introduction of three new use classes in England as follows:

  1. Class E (Commercial, Business and Service) which has amalgamated several previous use classes including retail, restaurants and cafes, indoor recreational facilities, financial or professional services as well as any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality.
  2. Class F1 (Learning and non-residential institutions) which includes non-residential educational uses along with museums, religious institutions, art galleries and libraries.
  3. Class F2 (Local Community) including small local shops, outdoor sports facilities or indoor swimming pools.

These changes have provided greater flexibility in the market aimed at reviving the high street by streamlining the planning process. For example, changes between many of the uses in the new Class E would have historically required planning permission to be obtained, but this is no longer the case.

Care will need to be taken by landlords and tenants alike when using or leasing out property to make sure that any new leasehold interest makes references to these new classes. However, if this new-found flexibility is not agreed under the terms of the lease, the parties will need to make sure that the lease defines the use (eg. as retail) rather than by reference to the use class alone.

Despite this streamlining process, occupiers will need to note that several other previously defined uses have, however, now become part of the sui generis class, including but not limited to, hot food takeaways, venues for live music, cinemas, concert halls and bingo halls. Changes to these uses will still need to go through planning as before.

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