The last month has seen HM Government’s relaxation of commercial user clauses in an effort to re-vitalise many of our ailing High Streets, and to attempt to re-dress the balance that the internet has had on people’s shopping habits.  The current pandemic has further emphasised the need for that. The current change has put in place by way of a statutory instrument and without the need for legislation to be taken through Parliament.  It is temporary for a year from 1st September but with the promise of a permanent re-structuring to be announced in July 2021.

There is now a new use, known as Class E (Commercial, business and service), which will mean that a premises that are currently used as a retail shop can be changed without the need for a change of use to many other commercial uses.  We can now expect to see uses such as gyms, leisure uses, medical clinics etc. appearing in our High Streets, mixed use of buildings is also being encouraged. It is also no longer necessary to apply for a change of use from a shop to a restaurant.  However take away and wine bars are excluded to control a possible proliferation of such uses in the High Street which is seen as counterproductive.

This a very positive step in modernising the planning system which was first created in 1987 and has been modified a number of times since then, however nothing quite as radical as the current shake up.  Notwithstanding this you should always check that your use is permitted within Class E, before making a legal commitment in respect of a property.   Many uses are incorporated within Class E and it will open up many opportunities, but there are exceptions – so take care.


Diane Tait

Commercial Manager