Business Clinic: Does change of use from tourism need planning permission?

Whether it’s a legal, tax, insurance, management or land issue, Farmers Weekly’s experts can help. Here, Fred Quartermain of solicitor Thrings explains a planning issue concerning a change of use from tourism to residential accommodation.

Q. Do I need planning permission for a change of use from tourist accommodation to a single dwelling?

The building is detached with its own entrance and the planning use seems to be C1. There are no conditions on the planning.

A. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 says that planning permission is only needed if the work being carried out meets the statutory definition of “development” which is set out in section 55 of the 1990 Act.

The definition of “development” includes building operations such as structural alterations, construction, rebuilding, most demolition and, importantly for the question asked, any material changes of use of land and buildings.

See also: Business Clinic – how will we fund care home fees without damaging farm/

Whether a “change of use” of land is material is a question of fact and degree to be assessed in each case.

However, there is some assistance in legislation when making this assessment, specifically in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended).

This document puts various uses of land and buildings into categories known as use classes.

The question indicates that the tourist accommodation is C1. This use class includes hotels, boarding and guest houses where no significant element of care is provided.

It does not cover use as a single dwellinghouse, which would fall under a C3 use class.

 While planning permission is not needed when the existing and the proposed uses fall within the same use class, a change between use classes will be a “material” change and so it is generally the case that you will need planning permission to move between one use class and another.

There are exceptions where the legislation does allow some changes between uses; these are found in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended).

This legislation specifies which material changes will be permitted. Unfortunately this does not cover any change from C1 to C3 use.

As a consequence, a planning application will be needed to facilitate the proposed change.

This application will be assessed against any development plan policies that are material to the proposal and the decision taken must be in accordance with those policies.

Many local authorities do have policies that seek to protect tourism by restricting the loss of C1 uses unless evidence can be provided that the use is obsolete or unviable.

Early discussions with the relevant local authority, including pre-application advice, may be advisable to understand the scope of the relevant policies and assist in overcoming any objections.

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