Our commercial landlord and tenant clients should be aware of recent changes which have come in to force that give more flexibility to change the planning use of commercial premises. Commercial property had been split into various separate Use Classes for example A1 and A2 which covered shops and retail as well as professional use of a premises, A3 which covered restaurants, cafes and similar establishments and B1 for office use.
Previously, to switch between these uses could involve obtaining planning permission which the local authority would control often to the frustration of the owners or prospective tenants of the properties involved.
As from 1 September 2020, a new Class E has been created and all of the uses formerly within Class A1, A2, A3, B1, D1 and D2 will now come under one single use Class E. This means that it will be possible to change the use of commercial premises between any one of these uses without having to obtain planning permission and for example from a solicitors’ office to a restaurant. This is fantastic for flexibility, ease and speed on the planning side but it must be remembered that any changes can be made only if the lease terms permit it.
This may be interesting going forwards as unless any lease has been granted very recently, it will almost certainly refer to the old Use Class Order and inevitable arguments may ensue over any proposed change of use of a premises. For example, the landlord may not want the use to change if it is perceived that the change would be detrimental to the building or to the other tenants.
In these difficult Covid times, now might be a good time for tenants to approach a landlord and ask whether a change of use or clarification can be made in respect of the lease. No doubt it will be helpful to their cause if tenants are up to date with their rent before making any such request.
Here is a link to the Government website showing the current list of Use Classes that was brought in at the beginning of September 2020.
Contact our Landlord & Tenant Solicitors
If you require any specific advice or assistance in interpreting your lease or making a change of use of commercial premises or any other commercial property issues, please contact Muscatt Black Graf by telephone on 0207 586 1141 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill in our online contact form.
This blog was prepared on 28 October 2020. It is not intended to be advice and should not be relied upon as such.