The ability to utilise a property for the purposes of teaching is prohibited by two factors, the Legal Use and the Permitted Use.

The Permitted Use is that which is defined by the landlord, or owner, of the property in the lease and may prohibit use as a school or college only or even a library, exhibition centre or office. 

The Legal Use, however is the area that I discuss here and relates to the designated Use assigned to the property legally and by the government through local authority designation.   

UK commercial property is made up of classifications of Use Class as defined by the government under their Use Class Order legislation.   Every commercial property in the UK is allocated a Use Classification and can only change between Uses though formal application to the Local Authority for a Change of Use.  

Some changes are relatively easy and some are desperately difficult.  Achieving an Education Use, strangely, falls into the latter category!

F1 Use Class property is one (the main, indeed) type of commercial property that we deal with at MB&A Commercial. 

An F1 Property, belonging to Class F of the The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020,  is defined as “Learning and Non-Residential Institutions” and can be used for the following sub sections (which may be specifically sub-defined):

  • for the provision of education
  • for the display of works of art (otherwise than for sale or hire)
  • as a museum
  • as a public library or public reading room
  • as a public hall or exhibition hall
  • for, or in connection with, public worship or religious instruction
  • as a law court

Being Class F means that the property can shift between any of these Uses without a formal application.   Local authorities have, though, tended to be more specific and define education as Class F1 specially in order to avoid diversification beyond its comfort zone.

The legislation is particularly relevant for those looking to buy, lease, rent or otherwise occupy commercial property. The vast majority of property in England will have had its permissible Uses already assigned by its local authority.

Each Class is used by the Local Planning Authority to allow them to create a suitable balance between residential areas and those for business purposes. They have the authority to effectively prohibit a ‘Use’ which would be inadvisable due to a particular property’s location or other relevant considerations.

The aim is to prevent types of business activities taking place which would have a detrimental effect on the local community. These uses are strictly controlled and if you want to change the Use of a property you will need planning permission from your local authority, particularly if the new Use falls outside its existing designated class.

There are important elements to know if you’re looking for an F1 property in London, or want to change a commercial building’s Legal Use. These factors will be taken into account before planning permission is granted, as they will have an impact on  the local environment:

  • The likely number of visitors
  • Ease of travel and onsite parking
  • Transport options
  • Noise pollution and local environmental dangers

In terms of Educational Use (Class F1) specially , there are also additional occupational factors such as the amount of space and toilet provisions required for each person, and for pupils below the age of 18, outside space as per OFSTED’s recommendations will be taken into account.

If you’re looking for an F1 property to rent, you need to be aware that with the restricted groups of Class F properties in London, planning permission for your property may be limited e.g. that it may specify the Use as a school or a day nursery or as a place of worship/church etc and not allow Use  for another purpose that falls under the F category.

This is an area that requires specialist F1 London property knowledge.  I have extensive experience in advising occupiers,  institutional property owners, developers and investors on such issues.

MB&A specialises in F1 property for sale and to let in London. Contact us to ask about properties currently available.

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