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A change of use is where you change the use class of a site or property from one thing to another. 

If the use of a property is changing but there is no change of use class, you do not need to submit an application for a change of use*. For example, if you converted a property from a shop to a restaurant it would remain within use class E and so no change of use would have occurred.

*Unless the current or proposed use is “sui generis”. More on this below.

Bear in mind, you may still need to submit a different type of planning application if your change within a use class requires you to make certain physical changes to the property that need consent, such as the installation of a flue or extraction system.

Use the buttons below to find out more about the changes of use we handle most frequently here at Planning Direct.

If your change of use is a permitted development right, you do not need to submit a planning application for a change of use. However, you may need to submit a different type of application, known as a prior approval application. You can find out more about change of use permitted development rights and prior approval applications using the buttons below.


The table below provides a description of the different use classes plus some common examples.

Use classDescription & examples
B2General Industrial
vehicle repair workshops, manufacturing, engineering, catering production
B8Storage or Distribution
storage centres, distribution centres, warehouses, self-storage
shops, banks, restaurants, cafes, offices, studios, medical centres, dentists, gyms, creches, salons
hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, motels, inns
C2Residential Institutions
hospitals, hospices, boarding schools, nursing homes
C2ASecure Residential Institutions
prisons, secure training centres, military barracks
houses and flats occupied by a single household
C4Small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
shared houses occupied by no more than 6 people
F1Learning and Non-residential Institutions
art galleries, museums, public libraries, schools, places of worship
F2Local Community
swimming pools, skating rinks, community halls, certain community shops
Sui Generis (no use class)Everything else
theatres, pubs, cinemas, takeaways, fuel stations, hostels, launderettes, scrapyards, betting offices etc.

Sui generis is not actually a use class, it just describes any use that is outside of the use classes like pubs, cinemas, betting offices and hot food takeaways. If your change of use involves a sui generis use you must always submit a planning application even if the site is changing from one sui generis use to another. 

Confused about the use classes?

The use classes were overhauled in 2020, with some of the previous use classes replaced. You may still see references to the former use classes – including use classes A and D – in local planning documents. You’ll find more information about the revoked use classes here:


Planning Direct manages and submits around 150 different change of use applications every year.

We can help you from start to finish, including:

  • assisting you to identify and select an appropriate site
  • preparing your detailed planning application, including written statements and planning drawings
  • commissioning any essential reports on your behalf, e.g. noise and odour surveys
  • submitting and managing your application until a decision is reached. This includes dealing with all the admin and responding to any concerns of your local council.

Popular types of change of use applications

Some of the change of use applications we deal with most frequently are:

If you have a change of use project that you’d like some assistance with, get in touch using the button below. Our initial advice is always free of charge.

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