What are the Uses Covered by the A2 Use Class?
The A2 Use Class is for premises which are used for providing financial and professional services. Banks and building societies fall clearly under this Class. Whilst post offices are occasionally, but erroneously, listed under Sui Generis class, they are in fact under A1 Class. Interestingly, A1 also applies for retail units or businesses selling cold food. (Sui Generis refers to ‘a class of its own’ according to the Planning Portal).
Professional service can cover estate agencies or employment agencies (but not betting shops or payday loan shops. These used to come under A2 use class but are now classed as Sui Generis use. Sui Generis means: ‘in a class of its own’; from Latin: sui= ‘of its own’, and generis = ‘kind’ – or ‘type / sort’.)When it comes to professional service, it covers employment agencies and estate agencies. Betting shops and payday loan shops are not covered. Whilst these two were covered under A2 Class in the past, they are now categorised under Sui Generis.
[Whilst the Planning Portal has higher level of authority compared to other private lists, it is recommended to check the current and proposed Use Classes for a premise with your Local Planning Authority or LPA. The Planning Portal acts as a trustworthy generic guideline platform, but it is the policies of the LPA that have the final word. It is recommended to check this link for information on the Use Classes order 2017.]
Additional Information & Examples of A2 Use Class
Changes of use applications are often too common on many High Streets. The underlying cases can be many:
- Recession is often a common cause of frequent change of use
- Parking restrictions can often be too strict and be a big problem for businesses that are unable to sustain customers
In normal conditions, an average rate of changes of use indicates that the economy is doing well. It also gives a boost to new start-ups. The benefits are specifically more pronounced in cosmopolitan areas with diverse population that likes to get its food mostly from the local place. New businesses are also encouraged, as long as planning policies are followed.
Here is a case of a change of use from A2 to B1. It was a bank that had been closed and the change of use was into an office. There was no planning application because the bank had remained closed for some time. The expected reasons for the bank’s closure were:
- The lack of parking facility on the High Rod
- Decision to merge branches
The closed bank had interiors that seemed to be quite dated. The company that wanted the change of use to office didn’t make any changes to the premises. The office was moved again to another modern building somewhere else.
The building received and overhaul. A new multi-coloured and modern-looking façade was given to the exterior. The benefits were not just aesthetic, this helps addressed crucial architectural concerns too. There was significant improvement to the High Street. When it came to the planning application, the change of use involved B1 to D1 (from a vacant office building to a health centre).
Some of the exterior was given bold red colour, which had a great impact when compared to the very dated earlier look of the building. A different change of use was made from B1 to D1 (offices to medical and dental clinics). This dentist was earlier practicing from another building that was diagonally located opposite. That earlier building had a different change of use application from C3 to D1 (residential to clinic).
After a few years, this new building received a repaint to mint green. It was pleasing, but it is likely that many may have still liked the red. The building passed onto another owner, but it continues to have D1 Class, as its 3-plus floors are used as GP clinic, family planning clinic, and dental clinic.
There are many more examples of planning applications involving A2 Class. Some of the notable examples include the following:
- A building society was changed to retail (A2 to A1 Class): There was devolution of Woolwich during merger with Barclays. Superdrug was the new owner of the premises.
- Estate agent building was changed to off-licence: Firmstones was the agent that wanted change of use to off-licence, which was covered under A1 (retail).
- Estate agent requiring planning application to update signage: Halifax required a planning application for changing signage to lighted fascias. Whilst this wasn’t a change of use, any updates to exterior facades require planning applications. This is required even when it isn’t a conservation area.
If you want to make changes of use to your premises and are concerned about the planning approval, it is recommended to contact us. The first thought that may come to your mind is to call the council. It is almost always difficult to get your call through. At the same time, it can be difficult to get proper answers to your queries.
The huge volume of workload in the planning department can make it impossible for the officers to get back to you instantly. It may also be required to pay a fee to them to provide their time. Even then, you are likely to find an officer who is somewhat junior.
If you are thinking of getting accurate information on the planning use of your premises, you should hire the services of a planning consultant. This can help ensure that your commercial planning application gets approved. This can also save you the fee involved.
With years of experience in submission of commercial planning applications in London and other cities, we have in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of the policies. We have also developed good working relationships with the planning departments. You will find excellent value in the fees and services we offer. Give us a call and we will be eager to help.