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Robert Irving Burns

A Guide to Property Use Classes

Every property in the UK is assigned a specific Use Class category. This defines what activities a residential or commercial premise may be used for by its lawful occupants.

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Every property in the UK is assigned a specific Use Class category. This defines what activities a residential or commercial premise may be used for by its lawful occupants.

This system was first introduced in The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. While making changes to the ‘use’ of a property was permitted in the past, it was often a lengthy, expensive process. It usually required planning permission too, which could be difficult to obtain. Thankfully, this has now changed.

Changes to the Use Classes

In September 2020, the Use Classes were amended. This was mainly to support businesses, and enable them to change Use Class with greater ease, if required. At a time when companies need to be flexible to adapt to a swiftly evolving business environment, this has been particularly well-received.

The main changes were:

  • Classes A1, A2, A3 and B1 were all grouped together and re-labelled as Class E
  • A4 and A5 were not included in Class E. Instead, they were given a new label – Sui Generis

Class C remains unaffected by the changes, and Class D has now been sub-divided into Classes E, F1, F2 and Sui Generis.

If a planning application was submitted prior to the changes, then the old Use Class system still applies. The same is true for Permitted Development rights, until 31st July 2021. Local Planning Authorities are on hand to answer any questions about the new system.

Which Use Class does my property fall under?

Property Use Classes can be quite complex and confusing. Ultimately it is up to the local planning authority to determine which particular ‘Use Class’ a property may fall into dependant on the individual circumstances of each case.

However, to give you an idea of which Use Class your property may fall under, we have provided an infographic outlining the Property Use Classes and the properties which typically fall under each category. Below is a more in-depth list which again can be used as a guide.

Class B2 – General Industrial

For the use of industrial processes other than ones falling within Classes B3 to B7.

Classes B3 – B7 – Special Industrial Groups

These five Use Classes are concerned with the uses, processes and manufacture of chemicals, metalwork, acids, oils, animal by-products and mining and quarrying.

If you need further information on any of these Use Classes, please contact us.

Class B8 – Distribution & Storage

For storage or as a distribution centre (including open air storage).

Class C1 – Hotels & Hostels

Use for any or all of the following purposes where in each case, no significant element of care is provided:

  • Hotels
  • Boarding Houses
  • Guest Houses
  • Hostels

Class C2 – Residential Institutions

Use for any or all of the following purposes:

  • Residential accommodation and care to people in need of care (other than within Use Class C3)
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • Residential Schools
  • Residential Colleges
  • Residential Training Centres

Class C3 – Dwellings, Houses, Flats & Apartments

For use as a dwelling house (whether or not as a sole or main residence):

  1. By a single person or by people living together as a family, or
  2. By not more than six residents living together as a single household (including a household where care is provided by residents)

Class C4 – Houses of Multiple Occupation

For use as a dwelling house by 3-6 residents as a ‘House of Multiple Occupation’.

Class E

Use for any or all of the following purposes:

  • Shops
  • Retail Warehouses
  • Hairdressers
  • Ticket & Travel Agencies
  • Post Offices (but not Sorting Offices)
  • Funeral Directors
  • Pet Shops
  • Sandwich Bars (or other cold food for consumption off the premises)
  • Showrooms
  • Domestic Hire Shops
  • Dry Cleaners
  • Internet Cafés

Financial & Professional Services

Use for the provision of:

  • Financial Services (such as Banks & Building Societies)
  • Professional Services (other than Health & Medical Services)
  • Estate Agents
  • Employment Agencies
  • Betting Shops

Restaurants & Cafés

For the sale of food or drink for consumption on the premises or of hot food for consumption off the premises, including restaurants, snack bars and cafés.


Use for any or all of the following purposes:

  • Offices
  • For Research & Development of products or processes
  • For any industrial process (being a use which can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit.)

Non-Residential Institutions

  • Clinics
  • Medical or Health Services
  • Crèche
  • Day Nurseries
  • Day Centres

Assembly & Leisure

  • Gyms
  • Other areas for indoor recreation not involving motorised vehicles or firearms

Class F1 – Learning & Non-Residential Institutions

For any use not including a residential use:

  • For the provision of education
  • For the display of works of art (other than for sale of hire)
  • Museums
  • Public Libraries or Public Reading Rooms
  • Public Halls or Exhibition Halls
  • For, or in connection with public worship or religious instruction
  • Law Courts

Class F2

  • Indoor or Outdoor Swimming Pools
  • Skating Rinks
  • Outdoor sports or recreations (other than motorised vehicles or where firearms are used)
  • Community Halls
  • Shops no larger than 280sqm (selling mostly essential goods and at least 1km from another similar shop)

Class ‘Sui Generis’

‘Sui Generis’ is a Latin phrase translated as ‘of its own kind’ and it covers uses that don’t fall into any of the above Use Classes:

  • Theatres
  • Houses in multiple paying occupation
  • Hostels providing no significant element of care
  • Scrap Yards
  • Petrol Filling Stations
  • Shops selling or displaying motor vehicles
  • Retail Warehouse Clubs
  • Nightclubs
  • Launderettes
  • Taxi & Minicab Businesses
  • Amusement Centres
  • Cinemas
  • Concert Halls
  • Bingo Halls
  • Casinos
  • Dance Halls
  • Live Music Venues
  • Pubs
  • Wine Bars
  • Other Drinking Establishments
  • Hot Food Takeaway


Commercial Lettings

If you would like any further information or advice on property use classes, get in touch with the RIB team today who’ll be happy to help.

Associate Director

Henry Bacon

Associate Director

Henry Bacon


Freddie Brett


Freddie Brett