If you're looking to lease or purchase a commercial property, you need to check the classification it's been given for business use. Each property is assigned a category by the local authority, dictating the permitted use for the premises.
If your line of business isn’t covered by the property’s classification, you (if you’re buying) or the landlord (if leasing) will need to apply for planning permission with the local authority, which will base its decision on a number of factors, such as whether your proposed business use is suitable for the property and area, and whether it is likely to cause disruption, nuisance or objections from other residents.
Here is a brief guide to the different classifications*.
### CLASS A
**A1 – Shops and retail outlets**
Use includes, for example: retail sales of goods other than hot food; Post Office; ticket sales and travel agents; hairdressing; sale of sandwiches, other cold food and snacks for consumption off premises; receiving goods to be washed, cleaned or repaired; funeral directors.
**A2 – Financial and professional services**
Use includes, for example: financial services; professional services (other than health or medical services); betting office; any other services appropriate to provide in a shopping area.
**A3 – Food and drink**
For the sale of food or drink for consumption on the premises or of hot food for consumption off the premises.
**A4 – Drinking establishments**
Such as public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments.
**A5 – Hot food takeaway**
For the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises.
**B1 – Business**
Offices, other than those already mentioned within Class A2; premises for research and development; for industrial processes which can be performed within a residential area without damaging the amenity of that area through noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit.
**B2 – General Industrial**
Property used for an industrial process not outlined in the B1 category or within B3-B7.
**B3 – Special industrial Group A**
Property used for any work that can be registered under the Alkali Works Regulation Act 1906, and also not used in categories B4 to B7.
**B4 – Special industrial Group B**
Relates to certain types of metal works not carried out in or adjacent to a quarry or mine.
**B5 – Special industrial Group C**
Relates to heavier industrial processes not carried out in or adjacent to a quarry or mine.
**B6 – Special Industrial Group D**
Relates to work with oils, gums, resins and some other types of chemical compounds, excluding petroleum.
**B7 – Special Industrial Group D**
Relates to processes for materials of animal origin, including manufacturing from animal parts, drying of animal skins, curing of fish and other such processes involving animal by-products.
Storage and distribution centres.
**C1 – Hotels and hostels**
Use as a hotel, boarding or guesthouse or as a hostel where, in each case, no significant element of care is provided.
**C2 – Residential institutions **
Use as nursing home, hospital, school, college and training centre.
**C3 – Dwelling houses**
Properties intended for the use of residential living whereby individuals, families or not more than six people are living together as a single household.
### CLASS D
**D1 – Any use not for residential purposes **
Use includes, for example: provision of medical or health care; museum; library; public or exhibition hall.
**D2 – Assembly and leisure**
Use includes, for example: cinema; concert hall; bingo hall or casino; swimming pool, skating rink or gym; other recreation not involving motor vehicles.
* The classes and descriptions here have been adapted and simplified from part of the UK Statutory Instrument 1987 No. 764, The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 which can be viewed here: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1987/Uksi_19870764_en_2.htm