ACS welcomes Government’s reform planning rules on high streets


The ACS has welcomed new laws being laid in parliament which aim to make it easier to repurpose commercial and retail space.

As part of the reforms, which are scheduled to take effect from 1st September, the Government is proposing to abolish the A1 Use Class for shops, with shops either entering a new ‘Commercial, Business and Service’ E Use Class or ‘Local Community’ F2 Use Class.

The new E Use Class would mean that a building used for retail would now be able to be permanently used as a café or office without requiring a planning application and local authority approval.

Most shops currently within the A1 Use Class will move into the new broader ‘Commercial, Business and Service’ Use Class E, alongside restaurants and cafes, offices, gyms, nurseries and health centres.

The Government has made it clear that essential community assets like village shops, pubs and libraries will not be covered by the new flexibilities in planning laws, in recognition of the role they play locally.

Shops mostly selling food and smaller than 280 square metres with no similar shop within a 1km radius will fall under this new ‘Local Community’ Use Class F2.

The new F2 Use Class means the following specific provisions:

Stores to be converted away from current use to provide another use e.g. hot food takeaway (A4) or Offices (B1), would require planning permission.

The new Use Class would not prohibit ‘ancillary’ services, for example a hot food counter or takeaway concession.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the Government’s plans to make it easier to repurpose retail and commercial space.

“Local shops survive and thrive by adapting to changes in their local community and customer base, so we support measures to make adapting easier and quicker.

“We are pleased that the Government has recognised the importance of local shops and other community assets by exempting those in isolated areas from the proposals.”

The full announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is available at