From pet shops to restaurants, most properties used by businesses have a planning use assigned to them. Once assigned, this ‘use class’ determines and restricts what the property can be used for.

Planning permission for change of use is not needed when the proposed use of the property falls within the same 'use class' as that which has been assigned to the property for the current use, or if the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) (‘GPDO’) says that a specified change of use is permitted.

The GPDO sets out “Permitted Development Rights” (PDR) which allow certain building works and changes of use to take place without having to apply for planning permission.

In recent years the flexibility to move within use class or between classes under PDR has been increased significantly and this can be problematic for landlords who wish to maintain a particular mix of uses and rely on references to statutory planning use classes to define permitted uses within their leases.

Control over such permitted uses is essential for properties such as retail parks and shopping centres given the potential impacts on neighbouring tenants and on the value of the property.

Landlords should ensure that their permitted use and planning clauses give them the certainty they need to avoid undesirable changes of use without their consent.