In planning, the "Use Classes Order" is a key piece of legislation.
The Use Classes Order sits alongside the "General Permitted Development Order" which allows certain forms of development - including material changes of use - to take place without the need to apply for planning permission. Planning permission has in effect been granted by the General Permitted Development Order, and is referred to as "Permitted Development Rights".
As part of its programme to reform and modernise the planning system - which includes cutting red tape by expanding the circumstances in which applications for planning permission are not required - the Scottish Government has been reviewing the General Permitted Development Order and Use Classes Order.
The latest phase of Scottish Ministers' reform is set out in The Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development and Use Classes) (Scotland) Miscellaneous Amendment Order 2023 which came into force on 31 March 2023.
This new Order seeks to implement the following three policy objectives: (i) the rollout of electric vehicle ("EV") charging infrastructure; (ii) the resilience and recovery of city, town and local centres; and (iii) operational development at Scottish ports.
(1) Amalgamation of Use Class 1 and Use Class 2
Use Class 1 (shops) and Use Class 2 (financial, professional and other services) have been amalgamated into a single Use Class 1A. This amalgamation provides greater flexibility. For example, planning permission is no longer required to change from 'shop use' to 'financial use'.
(2) Permitted Development Rights for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure and Operational Port Development
In recognising the role that EVs can play in helping to address climate change, the 2023 Order amends and extends the Permitted Development Rights for EV charging infrastructure.
Permitted Development Rights have also been extended in respect of operational port development.
(3) Permitted Development Rights for Use Class 3 Premises - Furniture on Adjacent Public Road
This new Permitted Development Right will permit the placement of furniture on a public road adjacent to a Use Class 3 (food and drink) premises. This will provide greater flexibility for the hospitality sector as pubs and bars are now permitted to place tables and chairs on the pavements outside their premises without the need for planning permission. Restrictions on obstructions to roads - and licensing controls - of course continue to apply.
(4) Permitted Development Right for Change of Use from Class 1A to Class 3
This new Permitted Development Right will permit a change from the newly amalgamated Use Class 1A (shops, financial, professional and other services) to Use Class 3 (food and drink) without the need for planning permission. Again, this will provide greater flexibility for the hospitality sector.
For further information, the fine detail and the full extent of the changes which have been introduced see the policy note on the Government website.
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