Guide to Using Classes Order and Permitted Changes of Use in the UK

by Bhavi Bhudia
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The Classes Order and Permitted Changes of Use are regulations in the United Kingdom that govern the use of land and buildings.

They provide guidelines on what types of activities can be carried out within specific categories, known as classes. This guide aims to provide an overview of the Classes Order and Permitted Changes of Use and offer a step-by-step process for their use.

1. Understanding the Classes Order:

The Classes Order categorizes different types of land and buildings into classes. Each class represents a specific type of use, such as residential, commercial, industrial, or agricultural. It is important to familiarize yourself with the different classes to determine the permitted uses and potential changes of use for a particular property.

2. Researching the Current Use Class:

Before considering any changes of use, you need to identify the current use class of the property. This information can be obtained from the local planning authority or by referring to existing planning permissions or documents related to the property. The current use class will serve as the starting point for any potential changes.

3. Identifying Permitted Changes of Use:

The Classes Order allows for certain changes of use without the need for planning permission. These permitted changes are referred to as "Permitted Development." The legislation outlines specific permitted changes for each use class. It is crucial to review the Classes Order to determine whether the proposed change falls within the permitted development rights.

4. Checking Local Planning Policies:

While permitted changes of use provide flexibility, local planning policies and specific site designations can influence the application of the Classes Order. Local planning authorities may impose additional restrictions or limitations in certain areas. Consult the local authority's planning department or their website to understand any specific requirements or conditions that may apply.

5. Use Classes Order and the General Permitted Development Order:

In some cases, changes of use may require a formal planning application. This is where the Use Classes Order and the General Permitted Development Order intersect. If the proposed change of use falls outside the permitted development rights, a planning application must be submitted to the local planning authority.

6. Preparing and Submitting a Planning Application:

If a change of use requires a planning application, prepare a comprehensive submission including plans, supporting documents, and any required fees. The application should address the proposed use, impact on the surrounding area, and compliance with local planning policies. Consult the local planning authority's guidelines for specific requirements and procedures for submitting planning applications.

7. Obtaining Planning Permission:

Once the planning application is submitted, the local planning authority will review the proposal. They will consider factors such as impact on neighboring properties, traffic, parking, and compliance with local planning policies. The decision-making process typically involves a public consultation period, and the authority will issue a formal decision within a specified timeframe.

8. Compliance and Implementation:

If planning permission is granted, ensure that the change of use is implemented in accordance with the approved plans and any conditions specified by the local planning authority. Failure to comply with the conditions or any unauthorized changes may result in enforcement action, penalties, or the need to revert to the previous use.


Understanding the Classes Order and Permitted Changes of Use is crucial when considering any changes to the use of land or buildings in the UK. Familiarize yourself with the current use class, research permitted changes of use, and consult local planning policies. Follow the appropriate procedures for permitted development or submit a planning application when required. Ensure compliance with any conditions attached to planning permission to avoid potential legal issues. Consulting with professionals, such as planning consultants or architects, can also provide valuable guidance throughout the process. 

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