A guide to commercial property use classes in the UK

If you’re involved in commercial property in any way, it’s worth understanding the different classifications of a property. Have you seen an office with a use class of B1 or a light industrial unit with a use class of B8 and not really understood why? If so, read on!

Why are there property classifications?

Most UK properties have their use defined by a local authority that has jurisdiction over them. This allows local town and country planners to ensure that their plans for a property or an area can actually happen.

For example, a property with A3 usage can be used for “the sale of food or drink for consumption on the premises or of hot food for consumption off the premises”. The useage system here can help in two ways:

a) The planners for an area can ensure that no A3 type properties (eg public houses) are in the middle of a residential spot to reduce noise complaints and possibly crime rates

b) An occupier looking to buy a property with A3 usage can be comfortable in the knowledge that they have permission to sell food or drink on the premises.

What are the property classifications?

A1 – Shops

Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, dry cleaners, etc

Pet shops, cats-meat shops, tripe shops, sandwich bars

Showrooms, domestic hire shops, funeral directors

A2 – Financial and Professional Services

Banks, building societies, estate and employment agencies

Professional and financial services, betting offices

A3 – Food and Drink

Restaurants, pubs, snack bars, cafés, wine bars, shops for sale of hot food

A4 – Drinking Establishments

Premises where the primary purpose is the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks on the premises.

A5 – Hot Food Take-away

Premises where the primary purpose is the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises

B1 – Business

Offices, not within A2

Research and development studios, laboratories, high tech

Light industry

B2 – General Industrial

General industrial

B8 – Storage and Distribution

Wholesale warehouse, distribution centres, repositories

C1 – Hotels

Hotels, boarding and guest houses

C2 – Residential Institutions

Residential schools and colleges

Hospitals and convalescent/nursing homes

C3 – Dwelling Houses

Dwellings, small businesses at home, communal housing of elderly and handicapped

D1 – Non-residential Institutions

Places of worship, church halls

Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, consulting rooms

Museums, public halls, libraries, art galleries, exhibition halls

Non-residential education and training centres

D2 – Assembly and Leisure

Cinemas, music and concert halls

Dance, sports halls, swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums

Other indoor and outdoor sports and leisure uses, bingo halls, casinos


Where uses do not fall within the main classes, they are classified as sui-generises

If you would like more information, please comment with your question below!

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