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Your Shout: A new order for restaurateurs and publicans?

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by Howard Day
of Howard Day
Restaurant operators should be aware that the Government is reviewing the Town and Country Planning Order, which is likely to affect the flexibility of the use classes enjoyed by pubs and restaurants. Currently both fall within what is known as Use Class A3 of the Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order 1988 and planning permission isn’t required to change a business to another use in the same class. But revisions to the Use Classes Order are expected to be announced early this year that will split pubs and restaurants into separate classes.

It’s likely that it will remain possible to move from a pub use to a restaurant use without planning permission, but that planning permission will be required to move from restaurant use to pub use.

Few restaurants are sold and then converted to pubs and bars, but where this does happen, post legislation, the deals would have to be subject to planning. With the new licensing reform coming into effect within the next 12 months, the local planning authority will also become the licensing authority, which could give the purchaser a difficult time. To retain value and maximum flexibility, it may be wise to seek a Certificate of Lawful Use after the new Use Classes Order comes into effect.

We expect the revised use classes to be as follows: A1: Retail shop (including internet cafés); A2: Financial services (eg, insurance brokers, estate agents); A3: Restaurants and cafés; A4: Public houses and bars; A5: Take-aways. A4 and A5 will be permitted a change of use to A1, A2, or A3, and it’s expected that class D will be amended to include a new class, D3, for late-night leisure (nightclubs).

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