What are change of use permitted development rights?

All sites and properties will belong to a specific use class. Use classes are defined in legislation and, broadly speaking, serve to identify the specific use of a site. 

For example, use class C3 applies to any property used as residential accommodation by a single person or single household. This means that most houses, flats and apartments have a C3 use class. Other residential use classes include C1 which applies to hostels and hotels, C2 which applies to residential institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes and C4 which applies to small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). 

You can find a list and description of all current use classes here.

Broadly speaking, planning law prohibits movement between use classes in the absence of formal planning consent. This means, for example, that if you wanted to convert your C3 house to a use falling within a different use class (such as a hotel or shop), you would need make an application for planning permission. This is the case even if the conversion entails no physical alterations. You can find out more about making a formal planning application for a change of use here.

Change of use permitted development rights provide specific exceptions to the above planning rule. They set out certain movements between use classes (or between specific uses within different use classes) that can be made in the absence of formal planning consent. 

What movements between which use classes are covered by permitted development rights?

There are 18 different changes of use currently covered by permitted development rights. Of these, 3 can no longer be enacted due to time limitations. The 15 remaining changes of use covered by permitted development rights are set out in the table below. 

Almost all of the permitted changes of use are subject to specific limitations and conditions. A change of use will only be considered “permitted development” only if it complies with all applicable limitations and conditions. 


A number of the permitted changes of use are also subject to prior approval.This means that unlike most permitted development rights, you must make an application to the council prior to commencing works. The council will assess certain impacts of the permitted development and will only grant prior approval if they are satisfied that the impacts are acceptable. What impacts can be assessed for each change of use will be set out in the conditions and limitations attached to that particular permitted development right. 

Permitted change of useAny conditions or limitations?Subject to prior approval?
Class A – from a casino, betting office, pay day loan shop or hot food takeaway to a commercial (use class E) use1 conditionNo
Class AA – from a pub, wine bar or other drinking establishment to a drinking establishment with expanded food provision and vice versaNoneNo
Class G – from any commercial (use class E) use to a mixed use as commercial (use class E) and as up to 2 flats OR from use as a betting office or pay day loan shop to a mixed use as a betting office or pay day loan shop and as up to 2 flats4 conditions Yes
Class H – from a mixed use as commercial (use class E) and as up to 2 flats to any commercial (use class E) use OR from a mixed use as a betting office or pay day loan shop and as up to 2 flats to use as a betting office or pay day loan shop1 limitationNo
Class I – from any general industrial (use class B2) use to any storage and distribution (use class B8) use 1 limitationNo
Class L – from a small HMO (use class C4) to a dwellinghouse (use class C3) and vice versa 2 limitationsNo
Class M – from a launderette, betting office, pay day loan shop or hot food takeaway to a mix between this use and a dwellinghouse (use class C3) or to one or more dwellinghouses (use class C3)6 limitations 
5 conditions 
Yes
Class MA – from any commercial (use class E) use to use as one or more dwellinghouses (use class C3)8 limitations
5 conditions
Yes
Class N – from an amusement arcade/centre or a casino to use as one or more dwellinghouses (use class C3)8 limitations 
3 conditions
Yes
Class Q – from an agricultural building to use as one or more dwellinghouses (use class C3)14 limitations 
3 conditions
Yes
Class R – from an agricultural building to a flexible use falling within one of the following use classes:
Storage & distribution (use class B8); Hotels and hostels (use class C1); or Commercial (use class E)
5 limitations
7 conditions 
Sometimes
Class S – from an agricultural building to a state-funded school8 limitations
5 conditions 
Yes
Class T – from a use falling within one of the following use classes:
Hotels and hostels (use class C1); Residential institutions e.g. hospitals (use class C2); Secure residential institutions e.g. prisons (use class C2A); or Commercial (use class E)
to use as a state-funded school 
3 limitations
5 conditions 
Yes
Class U – from a state-funded school or registered nursery converted under Class T to the site’s previous lawful useNoneNo
Class V – from a use permitted by a planning permission to another use that would have been specifically authorised by that permitted when it was granted4 limitations No

Do I need to make an application to my local council?

You can find the answer to this question here.

Can I make physical changes to the site or building?

In order to convert a site or building from one use class to another, you may need to make some physical changes.

If the physical changes are minor and only affect the interior of the building (such as a new layout, new partition walls or shop-fits), you can go ahead and make them.

However, if the physical changes are more substantial or would affect the building’s exterior (such as new windows or new drainage goods), different rules apply. You are only able to make changes of this nature if the relevant change of use permitted development right explicitly allows them.

For example, Class Q concerning the change of use of agricultural buildings to one or more dwellinghouses specifically permits “building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building”

It then clarifies that the only building operations that can be undertaken consist of:

  • Installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, or exterior walls;
  • Installation or replacement of water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services; and
  • Partial demolition (if required) to enable the above operations to be carried out. 

If the change of use permitted development right relevant to you does not explicitly allow building operations, you will need to submit a planning application to seek consent for them. 

There is no guarantee that such a planning application would be successful, even if the change of use is established by a permitted development right. The council will have regard to various matters, including the design and impacts on neighbouring properties. 

Please note that the requirements are different if a listed building is involved. 

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