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Use classes explained

Here you can find information on the various 'use classes' used in planning. These are important when completing a 'change of use' application.

What are use classes?

Most land and buildings in England are categorised depending on their purpose or use and these categories are set out by the use class order. 

Whenever you are thinking of creating, changing or demolishing buildings or land it is important to understand what use class they fall under. This also applies if you are changing how a building or land is used (for instance, turning a residential property into a business) but not necessarily making physical changes.

Sometimes, depending on which use class they come under, work carried out on buildings or land may be covered by permitted development rights. This means that you do not need to apply for planning permission but you may still need to seek prior approval or notify us before you make the changes.

List of use classes

Below is a full list of the various use classes, along with examples of the types of buildings or land they relate to.

Use classes explained
Use Class Name Examples of this type of use 
A1 shops and retail  
  • shops
  • retail warehouses
  • post offices 
  • ticket and travel agencies
  • sale of cold food for consumption off premises
  • hairdressers
  • funeral directors
  • hire shops
  • dry cleaners
  • internet cafes
A2 financial and professional services  
  • banks
  • building societies
  • estate and employment agencies
  • professional services (not health or medical services)
  • job centre
  • tourist information
A3 food and drink  
  • restaurants
  • cafes
A4 drinking establishments  
  • pubs
  • wine bars
  • other drinking establishments
A5 hot food takeaways  
  • takeaways
  • other places that sell hot food to be eaten off of premises
B1(a) offices (not generally visited by
members of the public)
  •  offices (excludes offices ancillary to another use, e.g. the back office within a shop)
B1(b/c) light industrial production / research     
  • research and development of products or processes.
  • industrial processes which can be carried out in  residential areas without causing detriment to the amenity of the area
  • recording studios
  • non-retail photographic studio
B2 general industry
  • industrial processes other than those in B1(b/c)
  • car repair services
  • catering premises and production
B8 storage and distribution  
  • buildings used for storage
  • warehouses
  • distribution centres
  • catering storage and distribution
C1 hotels  
  • hotels
  • boarding and guest houses (where no significant element of care is provided)
  • bed and breakfasts
C2 residential institutions  
  • residential accommodation and care to people in need of care
  • residential schools, colleges or training centres
  • hospitals
  • nursing homes
C2a secure residential institutions  
  • prisons
  • young offenders’ institutions
  • detention centres
  • secure training centres
  • custody centres
  • short term holding centres
  • secure hospitals
  • secure local authority accommodation
  • military barracks
C3 residential dwellings (houses)
  • use as a dwellinghouse or place of residence (regardless of whether it is the main residence)
C4 houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) - 6 units or below
  • use of a house by 3-6 individuals sharing common facilities

Note: Large HMOs (7+ people) are
categorised under sui generis (SG)

D1 non-residential institutions
  • clinics
  • health centres
  • crèches
  • day nurseries
  • schools
  • non-residential education and training centres
  • museums
  • public libraries
  • public halls
  • exhibition halls
  • places of worship
  • law courts
  • dentist
  • vets
D2 assembly / leisure
  • cinemas
  • concert halls
  • bingo halls
  • dance halls
  • swimming baths
  • skating rinks
  • gymnasiums
  • other areas for indoor and outdoor sports or recreations not involving  vehicles or firearms
Sui Generis (SG) 'unclassified' - do not fall into an above category
  • theatres,
  • large HMO (more than 6 people sharing)
  • hostels
  • petrol filling stations
  • shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles
  • scrap yards
  • retail warehouse clubs
  • nightclubs
  • launderettes
  • taxi or vehicle hire businesses
  • amusement centres
  • casinos
  • funfairs
  • waste disposal installations
  • betting office
  • pay day loan shop
  • tattoo parlour
  • dog grooming parlour
  • telephone exchanges
  • beauty salon