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Sui Generis Use Class Explained

Sui Generis Use Class Explained

26 November 2021

Sui Generis in the context of planning means ‘in a class of its own’. Certain uses are specifically defined as Sui Generis by legislation, whereas for other uses they land into the sui generis category when they fall outside of the defined limits of other use classes.


Sui Generis Meaning

Sui Generis is a Latin term that means ‘of its own kind’ and ‘in a class of its own’, and is therefore ‘unique’. Sui Generis as a term is used in a wide array of disciplines, such as biology, art, law and philosophy. This article refers to the Sui Generis Use Class, part of the UK town planning laws.

The Sui Generis Use Class received a shake up as part of the far-reaching planning changes introduced from September 1, 2020. The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 legislation was introduced to simplify the planning use cases, by sweeping away the old Use Classes A1, A2, A3, B1, D1 and D2, replacing them with Class E, F1 and F2. However, not all high street staples fell into these new categories.

Changes to the Sui Generis Use Class in September, 2020

Pubs and bars, which had previously been A4, takeaways (formerly A5), cinemas and live music venues (formerly D2) became part of the Sui Generis Use Class. 

Prior to the 1 September, 2020 the uses that were defined as Sui Generis are:

  • Theatres
  • Amusement arcades / centres or funfairs
  • Launderettes
  • Fuel stations
  • Hiring, selling and/or displaying motor vehicles
  • Taxi Business
  • Scrap yards, or a yard for the storage/ distribution of minerals and/or the breaking of motor vehicles
  • ‘Alkali work’ (any work registrable under the Alkali, etc. Works Regulation Act 1906 (as amended))
  • hostels (providing no significant element of care)
  • waste disposal installations for the incineration, chemical treatment or landfill of hazardous waste
  • retail warehouse clubs
  • nightclubs
  • casinos
  • betting offices/shops
  • payday loan shops

As of 1 September 2020, the following uses were added as Sui Generis:

  • public houses, wine bars, or drinking establishments – previously Class A4
  • drinking establishments with expanded food provision – previously Class A4
  • hot food takeaways (for the sale of hot food where consumption of that food is mostly undertaken off the premises) – previously Class A5
  • venues for live music performance 
  • cinemas – previously Class D2(a)
  • concert halls – previously Class D2(b)
  • bingo halls – previously Class D2(c)
  • dance halls – previously Class D2(d)

The information in the table below briefly summarises the reclassification of the classes as of September 1 2020:

Use Use class until 31 August 2020 Use class from September 2020
Shops A1 E
Financial & Professional Services A2 E
Food & Drink (mainly on the premises) A3 E
Business (office, research and development and light industrial process) B1 E
Non-residential institutions (medical or health services, crèches, day nurseries and centres) D1 E
Assembly and Leisure (indoor sport, recreation or fitness, gyms) D2 E
Non-residential institutions (education, art gallery, museum, public library, public exhibition hall, places of worship, law courts) D1 F.1
Shop no larger than 280sqm (selling mostly essential goods and at least 1km from another similar shop); community hall, outdoor sport/recreation area, indoor or outdoor swimming pool, skating rink A1 F.2
Public House, wine bar, drinking establishment A4 Sui generis
Hot Food Takeaway A5 Sui generis
Cinema, Concert Hall, Bingo Hall, Dance Hall, Live music venue D2 Sui generis

For more information on the new Class E Usage, read our recent guide.

Implications of the Sui Generis Use Class

As a use class, Sui Generis properties do not automatically benefit from the permitted development rights to change to an alternative use. This is to say, a change of use from a Sui Generis use or to a Sui Generis will often be subject to full local consideration through the planning application process. Even to change from one Sui Generis use to another Sui Generis use often requires planning permission. Certain sources indicated that permission is only required if the Sui Generis use is materially different from the existing use. 

All of this combines to ensure that careful consideration and industry expertise is required in relation to any Sui Generis related property matters. Fortunately, our enterprising team of property experts are on hand to help with any issues you may have. We’d love to hear from you, please use our contact form to get in touch. 

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