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When is a Pub not a Pub?

When is a pub not a pub.... when it is a restaurant!!


In the Planning System building uses fall within particular Use Class categories and where a use does not, it is called Sui Generis (Latin).

Recently Government amended the Use Class Order and created Class E, Commercial, Business and Service (a-g).

This includes (amongst many others) (b) “food and drink which is mostly consumed on the premises”…. perhaps more commonly referred to as a restaurant (former Class A3 Use).

Class E Changes of Use (COU)

If the use of a building falls within Class E, there are permitted development rights to convert the building (subject to meeting various conditions) to residential.

However, drinking establishments: public house, wine bar and drinking establishment with expanded food provision are not covered within Class E and are Sui Generis .... Thus NO PDR to convert to residential.

The Government have their reasons for this….

It goes back years…. notably….

Section 15 of the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 required the Secretary of State.… “as soon as reasonably practicable after the coming into force of this section” to remove the existing PDRs which allowed drinking establishments, including pubs, to change use or to be demolished. They did on 23rd May 2017. Mainly to stop supermarkets buying up pubs to convert and prevent the loss of community assets.

Take your local pub.

Looks like a traditional pub - it has a brewery sign.

BUT….It is a restaurant and thus falls within a Class E use.

Importantly they have served food her for many years.

Essentially, yes it would have started off as a pub, no planning permission in place but has ‘morphed’ into what we might call a Gastropub….

Importantly food is not confined to just a particular area and served across the whole premises, i.e. it is a primary part of the use of the building?

Sales of drinks can be a significant element of the business as long as it is not confined to an area - separate use physically and functionally from food service. It can still be Class E.

I.e. sale of food cannot be ancillary.

Other important Use Class Order changes on the 23rd May 2017, important it changed use before then!


If you want PDR opportunities….

1. Do not dismiss marketing details that refer to a pubic house - could be wrong!

2. Do not drive past what looks like to be a redundant pub - it may not be.


For example….

1. Establish does the property / did the property serve food?

2. Establish how long has it been vacant.

3. Establish when did it start serving food?

4. Establish was food served across all the premises?

Due diligence to build a case it is Class E - to argue it benefits from PDR/ prior approval opportunity COU to residential.

Don’t forget check it is not an Asset of Community Value…. another presentation!

As always act now!


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