Do I need permission?

Commercial premises

This page provides advice that relates to proposals for offices, industrial uses, storage and distribution, shops, food and/or drink establishments, leisure uses, hotels, crèches/day nurseries, training facilities, places of worship, health and education centres.

Planning permission is required for many commercial, institutional and recreational proposals. However, some works, installations and changes of use do not require planning permission.

Change of use

Land and buildings are grouped into a number of use classes by planning legislation – the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended). Certain changes of use are permitted (eg changing the use a restaurant to a shop), without requiring planning permission. Any change of use from one use class to another that is not permitted would require the benefit of planning permission and therefore would need to be applied for. Further guidance is available from the Planning Portal.


Factories and warehouses have some limited permitted development rights which allow for extensions to be built without requiring planning permission in certain circumstances. Other business premises, including shops will usually require planning permission for any changes to the appearance of the building (eg new shop fronts). Further guidance is available from the Planning Portal.

Prior approval

Central government has introduced a number of Prior Approval processes for changes of use of existing properties to other uses either on a temporary or permanent basis (eg an office, hotel or cinema to a state-funded school). Further guidance is available from the Planning Portal.

Last updated: 07 August 2019