HC Deb 27 November 2003 vol 415 cc9-10WS
The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill)

In January 2002, the Government issued a consultation document on possible changes to the Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order. Responses were to be received by 24 April 2002. We received over 2000 responses, which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has since been considering.


The consultation document proposed amalgamating the Al and A2 Use Classes. This would have resulted in a broad Use Class, comprising of shops and premises in the financial and professional services sector. However, response from a range of sectors in the marketplace expressed anxiety and further research suggested that this proposal may not prove beneficial for business growth and would on the whole do more harm than good. As a consequence, the Government will not be taking this proposal forward, the Al and A2 Use Classes will remain separate.

However, the Government will be making a number of amendments to the A 1 Use Class to bring it up to date and ensure that it reflects Government policy on town centres. These are: Internet cafes will be classified as an A1 use; Warehouse clubs will be taken out of the Use Classes Order, thus becoming sui generis; Motor vehicle showrooms will no longer enjoy permitted development rights for a change-of-use to any Al use. There will be no other changes to the Al or A2 Use Classes.

The current A3 Use Class includes cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, and takeaways. The consultation revealed that there is widespread concern that such a broad classification, which allows change of use from restaurants to pubs without the need for planning permission, contributes to the increase in the number of licensed premises. On 4 March this year, the hon. Member for Harrow East, Mr McNulty made a statement to the House announcing the Government had considered these representations carefully and proposed to put pubs and bars into a separate class.

Although restaurants and cafes will retain their A3 classification, this class will be modified to omit the reference to the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises. Class A3 will therefore be restricted to restaurant or cafe type uses. A change of use to Al or A2 Use Classes will be permitted but all other changes of use will require planning permission. Pubs and bars will be classified under a new Use Class A4.

Takeaways will be classified under a new Use Class A5 due to the high level of concern expressed during the consultation about the specific impacts on amenity caused by such businesses and their customers. Both A4 and A5 Use Classes will be permitted a change of use to Al, A2 or A3 classification. Any other proposed changes of use will require planning permission.

We do not propose to make any amendments to the current B Use Classes.

Neither do we propose to make changes to the current C Use Classes.

We propose to make one change to the current D Use Class, an additional Use Class D3: Late Night Leisure. Most existing late night uses are already covered by existing classes, however nightclubs do not have a clear classification within the current Use Classes Order, and the impact on amenity of nightclubs is distinct and different from other uses. We will, therefore introduce a new Use Class D3 will be the classification for nightclubs. Planning permission will be required for any change of use from or to a D3 classification.

A statutory instrument giving effect to these changes will be made in due course.

The order will be made under section 55(2)(f) of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and it is therefore not subject to the Parliamentary procedures set out in section 333 of the Act.

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