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Change of Use Application Rules

A Change of Use application for Change of Use planning permission can be required in many different circumstances. In the UK, it is a legal obligation to obtain land use consent, and a Change of Use can apply if you want to change, for example, retail premises to residential premises, or storage premises to retail premises.

The important consideration when looking at a Change of Use is ensuring that your Change of Use planning application is carefully considered to ensure that it has the best prospects of success. 

If you need advice about change of use planning permission and what the process involves, get in touch with our friendly and experienced team today. Give us a call on 01634 811118, drop us an email at or make a quick online enquiry.

Kingsley Smith Solicitor’s expertise in planning law and Change of Use planning permission can help you with obtaining land use consent. We can also give advice on the change of use application requirements and negotiating your responsibilities within this sector.

Change of Use Application Requirements

Change of Use Planning permission is often required for any change of use regardless of any alterations of ownership. There may be Change of Use application requirements, and we can guide you through your change of use.

There are some classes of use that do not require planning permission (as set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987). Since 1 September 2020, there has been a radical shake-up of the Use Classes so it is important that you are advised on what the latest position is. The main change brings more flexibility to changes of use. Use Classes A1 (retail), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafes), B1 (business), parts of D1 (non-residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) are now combined into a single new Use Class: Class E Commercial, Business and Service. Changes between these uses will no longer constitute “development” and will not require planning permission. Two further new classes have been created (taking parts of the former D1 and D2 classes): Class F.1 Learning and Non-residential institutions; Class F.2 Local Community Use.

It is difficult to navigate these as yet untested new Use Classes, and they will necessitate significant changes to permitted development rights and planning policy. We can advise you what your rights are and  identify the correct approach, and  including with regard to transitional provisions. 

This will avoid money being spent unnecessarily on the cost of a change of use application which is ultimately wasted.

Early initial advice on land use consent from our change of use planning permission experts can help avoid unnecessary costs. We can advise as to the change of use application requirements and the associated costs.

If you have changed the use of a property or building and you have not obtained permission, you may be protected under the change of use 4 year rule, or the change of use 10 year rule.

Change of use 4 year rule

The change of use 4 year rule applies to a building, or part of a building, which is changed to a single dwelling house. Under this rule, if the change of use occurred more than 4 years ago, the development is immune from enforcement action

A four-year limit also applies to building operations carried out without permission. 

However, the enforcement immunity may not apply if you have deliberately concealed the development from the local enforcement authority or in other circumstances. This issue is complex and expert advice is required to avoid falling in a trap. 

Change of use 10 year rule

The change of use 10 year rule applies to changes of use to any use other than a single-dwelling house. 

Under the change of use 10 year rule, once the building has been used for the same purpose for 10 years, the change of use automatically becomes legal.

For example, if you run a business from your garage (which has planning permission for domestic use only), it will take 10 years for the change of use to become lawful.

As with the four year rule above, the immunity may not apply if you have deliberately concealed the change of use in question or in certain other circumstances. Expert advice is recommended. 

Get in touch with our planning law experts today to find out more about the change of use 10 year and 4 year rules. Give us a call on 01634 811118, drop us an email at or make a quick online enquiry.

Change of Use from Commercial to Residential

If you would like to change the use of your property or land from commercial to residential, you need to understand what you need to do and the limitations and conditions involved.

Legal advice for change of use office to residential 

It is best to confirm what application you need to make before work commences, as this will ensure you do not waste time and money and harm your position.

If you have already started on the development and you later discover a change of use application is required, you can still obtain planning permission, although there is the danger it will be refused.

Solicitors for change of use office to residential

To give your change of use application the best chance of success, you should seek expert legal advice from a solicitor.

At Kingsley Smith Solicitors we have considerable experience in this area of the law and can advise you what you need to do, what your rights are and help you through the process.


We will apply our professional knowledge to put together a carefully considered application on your behalf. We can also advise on the change of use requirements and negotiate your responsibilities within this sector. Find out more about our planning law services

Would You Like Our Planning Experience On Your Side?

If you would like an initial opinion on obtaining land use consent or a Change of Use Application from Kingsley Smith Solicitors LLP, please call us on 01634 811 118, complete our online enquiry form, or email our Change of Use and planning law expert Nicholas Kingsley-Smith.

The materials appearing on this website do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether express or implied is given in relation to such materials. We shall not be liable for any technical, editorial, typographical or other errors or omissions within the information provided on this website, nor shall we be responsible for the content of any web images or information linked to this website. Viewing this website, or contacting us does not constitute a solicitor client relationship between you and this firm.