Apply to change the use of a building

You may want to change the function of a building you own or rent. This could include turning a property into a shop, cafe, hotel or house.

Before leasing or buying a property, you should check if you need planning permission to change the use of the building, and how likely you are to get permission.

Every building has a ‘class’ that defines what it is used for.  Classes cover uses such as:

  • Businesses with a display window
  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Storage units
  • Houses

When you need planning permission to change the use of a building

Changing the use – or ‘class’ – of a building does not always need you to get planning permission, but there are certain circumstances when you do.

These circumstances can include when:

  • Changing the use of your building requires significant external building work
  • The change of use would be significantly different to the building’s existing purpose.  Changing your property from a shoe shop to an optician may not require planning permission, but changing from an industrial unit to a restaurant might.
  • The building is listed or in a conservation area
  • Changing a building’s use would noticeably increase traffic or visitors, involve activities unusual for a residential area, create disturbances to neighbours at unreasonable hours or other nuisances such as noise or smells.

The Planning Portal gives guidance on common building projects to help you understand if your project needs planning permission. For more advice call 0151 443 2380 or email [email protected]

How to apply to change the use of a building

Start a new planning application to apply to change the use of a building.  Your application is normally decided within 8 weeks, but large and complex applications can take up-to 13 weeks.

Start new planning application

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