What are the use class changes?
Over the summer, the Government announced a big shakeup of property use classes.
They created some new use classes, reclassified some old ones, and combined some too, with a view to making planning simpler (and ideally help give the high street a boost in the process).
When did they come into effect?
The Government announced the changes at the end of July, ready to take effect on 1st September 2020.
That didn’t leave long to get ready, did it?
No. Not long at all.
But we think that turnaround time is actually a good thing for you. Sure, it meant some long days and coffee-fuelled nights for the LandInsight team, but we knew that speed is vital for a change like this.
Developers who can move on the changes fastest will snap up the best deals, it’s as simple as that.
And we wanted to make sure you’re one of them.
Why are there now two use classes listed on LandInsight?
The changes come into effect from 1st September 2020, but the old use classes are being phased out (rather than turned off overnight).
That means that the legacy use classes are still applicable until 31st July 2021. So we’ve made sure to include both where suitable.
So what exactly’s changed on LandInsight?
(Note: Some of these features are only available to Unlimited customers. If you’re on a Starter/Pro account and would like to find out more about upgrading, get in touch via in-app chat).
Property information layer
On the property information layer, you will now see both the new use class and the legacy use class.
The property search will allow you to search by both old use class (before the change came into effect) and the new use class.
Importantly, we’ve kept it so that you only get the exact use class you search for. That means you can continue searching for exactly what you’re after, without us automatically including the new variants too.
For instance, if you search A3, you’ll only get results for A3 (under the legacy designation).
However, over time those legacy use classes will become less and less accurate. If someone buys an A3 property and converts it to a different Class E property type, we’d have no way of tracking the change anymore as the class E designation is correct either way.
So you’ll need to adapt your workflows (and sooner rather than later is probably better).
Planning applications layer and search
Similarly for planning, we’ll only show you exactly what you search for, to save you reviewing unsuitable results.
We also aren’t updating existing planning applications, so you can still see the exact application as it was put in, rather than the new designation.
Your existing planning alerts will work in the same way as before, only returning the results for the exact query you set up.
If you did want to track new opportunities as a result of these use class changes, you can always set up new planning alerts. Here’s a reminder of how to do that.
Site cards and site reports
Site cards and site reports combine property information and planning information in one place, but they still use the same rules as above.
Property information – show both use classes until the phase-out ends.
Planning information – show the designation as it was on the planning application. So it’ll be the legacy designation if it was made under the old system or the new use class if it was made under the changed system.
Special note on the F2 use class
The new Class F2 (local community use) covers a number of different property types. Most are simple – swimming pools, skating rinks, other outdoor places for sports and recreation, that sort of thing – and have been updated accordingly.
But one classification is slightly more tricky – shops under 280sqm that sell essential goods and over 1km from another similar shop.
The idea is to make sure that these shops remain to serve their communities. And that’s a great aim. But because there’s no standard government dataset for what shops sell, we have no way to automatically classify them correctly.
To get around it, we’ve had to classify them all as E – but if you’re looking in very rural areas, it is worth double-checking the classification when shortlisting properties.
All sounds great! Is there anywhere I can learn more about the changes?
If you’ve got any questions about a specific feature, you can always hop onto the in-app live chat and talk to one of the team.