New Class MA: Use Class E to Residential

Earlier this year, the new Class MA was revealed and with it many opportunities that could potentially change UK streets.


Heads up, this is great news ahead for business owners and developers!


Here’s what you need to know:

Class MA is basically an evolution of Class M, removing certain restrictions from that class and introducing permitted development rights to open up more opportunities to transform properties under Class E, retail and office spaces, into residential properties.


Think of it as a massive effort to repurpose city and town centres. Especially after the increase of vacant shops propelled by the coronavirus pandemic.


Class E to Residential includes:

  • Shops
  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Offices
  • Light Industrial Units
  • Medical or health services
  • Crèches and nurseries
  • Indoor sports centres (other than a swimming pool)


Essentially anything under Class E.


Does size matter? There is an increase in floor space of 1,500sq metres, a significant tenfold increase on the previous size limit of 150sq metres under Class M. If you ask us, that’s a great advantage!


It’s worth nothing that certain permitted development rights will become irrelevant by 31st July.


So what does this mean for property developers?

This means that existing permitted development rights to convert office spaces of ‘unlimited size’ will come to an end.


This new change takes effect on 1st August 2021. We advise not to submit any applications prior to this day, as they will be automatically rejected. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start scanning high streets for opportunities, does it?


But keep this in mind: Class MA grants you permission to transform a space into a residential unit and not a HMO, sorry no house sharing!


Application requirements you need to consider:

  • You can’t get permission with existing tenants in the property. The building needs to be vacant for at least 3 months before submission for approval.


  • Prior to applying, you have to make sure your property was used under one of the use classes under Class E for at least 2 years.


Also, Prior approval – Date Stamped:

For each application there must be a recurring 2-year period. That means, your change of use must be mentioned or use Class E for at least 2 years. E.g. if today was the 1st of August 2021 then it should have been in a required use from the 1st of August 2019.


Which properties can’t make use of Class MA?

  • Natural parks
  • World heritage sites
  • Scheduled monuments
  • Listed buildings
  • A space of scientific interest


What can you do if you don’t meet the requirements?

Something to keep in mind, if your office building doesn’t qualify for new Class MA  don’t fret about it! You can consider applying before the Class O rights fall away. The final submission for such application is 31 July 2021.


In short, going forward the new Class MA will create a big impact. Transforming highstreets and repurposing urban spaces.


Maybe there’s an opportunity to find your new home in an old nursery or highstreet shop. If you own a property and would like to discuss in detail how Class MA can benefit you, get in touch with us today. We’ll walk you through it.


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