Class E (Commercial, Business and Service) use was introduced in September 2020, as an amendment to The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. It combines previous use classes A1/2/3, B1, D1 and D2(e) and allows flexibility between retail, food & drink, professional services, office, indoor sport/recreation & light industrial.
The rule change means there is no longer a need to apply for planning between these former uses. For example a typical high street shop (former A1) can now change between a gym, restaurant & an office (or can operate all 3 at the same time!) without involvement from the local authority.
These rules free up the high street and ‘let the market’ decide based on occupier requirements. The change reflects changing consumer patterns, influenced by competition from online retailers. This runs in parallel with the move towards short/more flexible leases.