The change of use of commercial premises to hot food takeaways is something we handle frequently here at Planning Direct. If you’re looking to convert your commercial site to a takeaway, this page provides some helpful planning advice.

Want to find out more about other popular changes of use? Follow the links below.

Apply for planning permission

If you’d like to convert a class E commercial property* to a hot food takeaway, you first need to secure planning permission for a change of use. The change of use will be from use class E to “sui generis”. 

This means you need to submit a planning application to your Local Planning Authority (this is normally your local council). Your council will then assess your planning application and either approve or refuse it. 

Click the link below to find out more about change of use planning applications, including what they are and what the different use classes include.

If you’re looking for some general information about planning applications – including what you need to submit, what the fees are and how long they take – follow the link below.

*What is a class E commercial property?

Most types of commercial properties are in use class “E”, including:

  • shops
  • banks
  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • offices
  • studios
  • medical centres
  • dentists
  • gyms
  • creches
  • hair salons.

How do I improve the chances of my planning application being approved?

When they assess your planning application, your council has to take account of their local planning policies and any other material planning considerations.

Material planning considerations

Material planning considerations are matters in addition to planning policies that your council can and should take into account when they assess planning applications. In fact, there is a rule in planning that allows your council to approve development in conflict with their planning policies if they are satisfied that material planning considerations support this. Material planning considerations include things like road safety, previous planning decisions, privacy and nature conservation. Click the button below to find out more about material planning considerations.

Local planning policies

Although the content of local planning policies will vary, there are certain key planning issues that most – if not all – councils in England and Wales will take into account when they consider an application for the change of use of a commercial property to a hot food takeaway. These are discussed below. 

If your change of use is acceptable in relation to these key issues, it’s very likely that it would comply with local planning policies. However, you should always check your local planning policies to make sure.

If you instruct Planning Direct to submit your change of use planning application, we’ll conduct this research on your behalf.

Key planning issues

What are the key planning issues? 

Local planning policies will vary and it is important that your planning application is designed to meet the policies in force in your local area.

No matter where your commercial property is located, however, your local council will almost certainly take the following key planning issues into account when considering its change of use to a hot food takeaway:

Effect on character and appearance

“Character and appearance” is the way a place looks, functions and feels. 

This includes:

  • its buildings – for example, what is their size and style?
  • its layout – for example, are buildings close together or far apart? And where do cars park?
  • its uses – for example, is it mainly residential, commercial or a mix?
  • its type and amount of activity – for example, is it a busy town centre or a quiet village street?

When it comes to a change of use from commercial (class E) to hot food takeaway, your council will mainly be concerned about:

The effect of physical changes, especially external

Physical changes include things like new signage, lights and extraction systems (such as flues). Your council will ask:

  • are physical changes designed and constructed to a high quality?
  • are they “in keeping” with the building and surrounding area? For example, does new signage follow the style, position and materials of existing commercial signage along the street? If there are already similar features in the area, your council is more likely to find the physical changes acceptable.
The effect of the hot food takeaway’s regular operation

Hot food takeaways can sometimes cause or worsen problems in a local area. This is because of their potential to cause noise, disturbance, litter, antisocial behaviour (usually associated with late night opening) and to contribute to unhealthy eating habits. Your local council will pay a lot of attention to these concerns, for example:

  • would it create noise, smells or disturbance that is inappropriate to the location?
  • would it be open much later than other commercial premises in the area?

For these reasons, hot food takeaways are more likely to be acceptable in areas that already have a bustling commercial character, such as town centres.  Areas where they are more likely to be resisted include locations close to schools and locations with a quieter or mainly residential character. 

Effect on parking and roads


Your council will consider whether there is enough parking available for the hot food takeaway’s employees and customers.

This could be private parking or shared/public car parking.

All that matters is that there are enough parking spaces to meet the parking needs of the new business as well as the needs of existing businesses and residents in the area. 

Local parking standards

Some councils have detailed parking standards that tell you the minimum number of parking spaces different sites and buildings (such as commercial buildings and hot food takeaways) should have available. These are often calculated based on the amount of floorspace.

In most cases, your council will expect you to comply with their minimum parking standards. However, exceptions are frequently made in the following circumstances:

  • The site is in a town centre or other urban location with lots of public transport, walking and cycling routes
  • The existing parking situation would not be made worse. For example, if the existing commercial property has 5 spaces less than the standard and would still have 5 spaces less than the standard if its use was changed to a hot food takeaway.

In terms of the effect on roads, your council will need to be satisfied that the change of use will not cause harm to their safety or the way they function. They will likely consider the following matters:

  • Will there be a significant increase in traffic?
  • Will there be a significant increase in on-road parking (and is the road suitable for that)?
  • Will there be an increased risk of conflict between drivers and pedestrians?

Effect on residential amenities

Your council will need to be satisfied that the use of the building as a hot food takeaway wouldn’t cause unacceptable harm to nearby residential properties. In the case of high street buildings, this could include any residential flat(s) located directly above. Your council will be concerned about all kinds of disturbance but mainly noise and smells. 

Depending on the type of hot food takeaway* and its proximity to residential properties, you may need to provide a noise impact assessment and/or odour impact assessment with your planning application. 

*including its cooking and ventilation facilities and its hours of operation.

Effect on the local economy and local community

Your council will consider the effect of the change of use on the local economy and the local community. It is likely they will pay close attention to the following matters:

  • Does the change of use result in an “oversaturation” of hot food takeaways? In other words, would there be too many hot food takeaways? Some councils have limits on the total number of hot food takeaways allowed along one street or in one location.
  • Are you changing from a use that the council is trying to protect? Some councils have policies that resist the loss of certain commercial uses such as offices to other uses.
  • Will a new hot food takeaway worsen any significant social or community problems or concerns in the area? For example, some councils have policies to resist new hot food takeaways in locations close to schools.

Effect on heritage assets 

If the change of use has the potential to affect a heritage asset*, your council is legally required to take this into consideration.

*When would my change of use have the potential to affect a heritage asset?

This is likely to be the case if:

  • the building is listed (Grade I – II) or locally listed
  • the building is close to one or more listed buildings
  • the building is in or adjacent to a conservation area.

In these circumstances, permission for your change of use will normally only be granted if its effect on heritage assets is beneficial or neutral. 

Your application must include a heritage impact assessment (HIA)

If your change of use has the potential to affect a heritage asset then your planning application must include a heritage impact assessment. A heritage impact assessment explains the significance of the affected heritage asset(s) and describes the likely impact of the change of use on this significance.

Heritage impact assessments should be proportionate to the scale and impact of a development. If your change of use is straightforward, it’s likely you’ll only need a basic heritage impact assessment. Click the button below to find out more.

What do I need to submit with my change of use application?

Your planning application for the change of use of a commercial property (class E) to a hot food takeaway (sui generis) should normally include:

  • Application form
  • Planning statement
  • Planning drawings:
    • Site location plan
    • Block plan
    • Existing and proposed floorplans
    • Existing and proposed elevations.

Planning Direct can provide all of these documents either as part of our start-to-finish planning service or as one-off products. Click the links below to find out more.

Other requirements will vary depending on the site and its location, the type and amount of physical changes (if any), who your local council is and what their planning policies are. To help you, we’ve listed below some of the most commonly requested documents and explained when these are likely to be needed.

Detailed specs for extraction/ventilation systems

If you need to install new ventilation or extraction systems (including flues), it’s likely your council will ask for detailed drawings and technical specs.

Noise & odour impact assessments

If the building is located close to existing flats or houses, your council may request noise and/or odour impact assessments.

Heritage impact assessment

If the change of use has the potential to affect a heritage asset (more on this above), it’s likely your council will require a heritage impact assessment. Click the link below to find out all about Planning Direct’s competitively priced heritage impact assessments.

Transport statement

If the change of use is in an area with lots of traffic, lots of accidents, insufficient parking or substandard roads (etc.), your council may request a transport statement. Click the link below to find out more about Planning Direct’s travel plans and transport statements.

How can Planning Direct assist with my change of use application?

Start-to-finish planning service

Planning Direct can assist you with all aspects of your change of use application. Our start-to-finish planning service includes the following:

  • design guidance
  • planning drawings
  • planning statement
  • case management*. 

*this means we will submit the planning application on your behalf and then act as your agent throughout the process, liaising with your council and any other parties until a decision is reached. 

Follow the links below to find out more about these individual planning services.

As part of our start-to-finish planning service, we will also identify whether there is a need for additional reports or documents such as noise impact assessments, transport statements or heritage impact assessments. If these are required, we can either produce them in-house or commission them on your behalf. We will always discuss and agree this with you beforehand.

Follow the link below to find out more about how our external commissions work.

One-off planning services and products

However, not all of our clients require a start-to-finish service. For example, some already have drawings and others simply require a supporting statement* for an application that is already in progress.

*such as a planning statement, heritage impact assessment or transport statement.

For this reason, we offer all of our planning services as one-off products.

Contact us today to let us know exactly what you need and we’ll respond with a bespoke, no-obligation quotation. Our aim is to respond to all new enquiries within 1 working day and we rarely fail to achieve that!

How much will my change of use application cost?

There are two main expenses you’ll need to take into account. These are:

  • The cost to prepare and submit the planning application
  • The application fee which is payable to your local council.

Currently, the application fee for the change of use of a commercial property (class E) to a hot food takeaway (sui generis) in England is £462*. A small processing fee is added on top of this.

*please be aware that although we make every effort to keep our website up-to-date, application fees do change occasionally and you should always check the fees in place at the time of making your application. 

For the latest planning application fees, go to the government’s Planning Portal:

Planning Direct’s fees for a start-to-finish change of use planning service start from £1195.

Please be aware that in certain circumstances your local council may request additional reports** which will attract additional fees. 

*such as a heritage impact assessment, noise impact assessment or transport statement.

How can I keep costs down?

Generally speaking, the fewer physical changes you need to make to the building, the cheaper the planning application.

You’re also entitled to prepare and submit your own planning applications and there is no obligation to employ a planning consultant. However, a good planning consultant can save you time and money in the long run. This is because there are many pitfalls in planning (technical and otherwise) that the average home or business owner cannot help but stumble into. For example, planning drawings must be drawn to particular scales and include specific features. If it takes you multiple attempts to get this right, you’re likely to spend more money overall.

At Planning Direct, our aim is always to secure our clients the best possible outcome at the lowest possible price. Contact us today to find out more about how we work.

Back to top