Oliver Brookes looks at options for tenants who want to apply for a change of use

Posted on 01 February 2017.

The peaks and troughs in the market place, the continuing demand for residential properties and an increased requirement for service and community based businesses and charities have led to a steady increase in potential tenants/purchasers looking at a variety of different properties with the intention of changing the use class. 

Most land and properties are allocated a use class by means of a code which relates to the historic use of the building/land under the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. The use class dictates how the premises can be used; retail, takeaways, industrial, offices and industrial to name a few. 

Should a prospective occupier want to change the use of the premises (for example, changing premises currently used as a clothes shop to a café) then a planning application and planning permission may be required to change the current use class. There is a cost in making a planning applications (see calculator here) but costs may escalate above this should professionals such as planning consultants, architects or surveyors be required.

If the change of use could be considered contentious or is for some reason particularly complex, applicants can seek a pre-planning application. The pre-planning application, at a reduced cost, looks at the feasibility of a planning change and offers the prospective tenant a frank response from the Planning Office, prior to a full application being made.

Recently, we have seen many examples of use class changes either from one class of business use to another or from business to residential use. Current legislation (the General Permitted Development Order 2015) does allow, in some cases, for a change of use to be granted under a permitted development right. If applicable, permitted development allows the incoming business to operate the premises under a different use from its existing class either for a set period of time or indefinitely. This can be arranged by either a simple prior approval process or under permitted development status. The most popular of these permitted development rights is to convert offices to residential use.

All planning application and pre-planning application queries should be addressed to the relevant local planning authority (see below).

We  have a great deal of experience in these situations and can advise tenants and landlords on the options available and the processes.

If you’d like advice and guidance, please call Oliver Brookes on 01604 799010.


Useful contact information:

Planning Portal: national advice and guidance re planning

Northampton Borough Council Planning Department: 0300 330 7000

Daventry District Council Planning Department: 01327 871100

South Northamptonshire Council Planning Department: 01327 322237

Borough Council of Wellingborough Planning Department: 01933 231902

Kettering Borough Council Planning Department: 01536 534316

Corby Borough Council Planning Department: 01536 464158 

East Northamptonshire Council Planning Department: 01832 742225 

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