Planning Portal

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  3. Shops


Shop projects

I want to change a residential building or land into a shop.

Planning Permission

The planning system defines the different uses of buildings, and separates them into different classes. In most cases planning permission is required to change the use of a building from one class to another, although permitted development rights do allow for some uses to change to a different use without the need for planning permission. See our pages on Change of Use for more detailed information.

Planning permission will almost certainly be required for change of use of a residential property to a retail use.

The majority of local authorities have designated shopping or commercial areas within their planning policies where shops and other commercial uses are encouraged. It is likely to be very difficult to gain permission for a retail use outside of these areas especially in an area that might otherwise be wholly residential.

Read the guidance on the use classes within planning.

Building Regulations

The regulations define converting a home into a shop as a 'material change of use' and specify the requirements with which, as a result of that change of use, the building, or the relevant part of the building, must comply.

The specific requirements include those concerned with escape and other fire precautions, hygiene, energy conservation, and access to and use of buildings.

The building may therefore need to be upgraded to make it comply with the specified requirements.

You should also check with the local fire authority, usually the County Council, to see what 'on-going' fire precautions legislation will apply when the building is in use.


I want to convert a shop to a café, public house or takeaway (Use Classes A3, A4 and A5).

Planning Permission

Premises in shop use (Class A1) are able to change to café use (Class A3) providing that the premises is less than 150m2 and subject to the Prior Approval from the Local Planning Authority.

For other material changes of use, such as to a public house (Class A4) or takeaway (Class A5) planning permission will be required because the proposed use would be in a different use class to the existing use and there is no exception made within planning legislation to allow a change of use in this instance (although the reverse is allowed whereby an A5 or an A4 use is permitted to change to an A1 use).

If you do need planning permission, then you will need to consider whether your proposal complies with the Council’s planning policies. These will consider the impact of your proposal in terms of the impact on the vitality and the viability of the shopping area, the impact on neighbours, and the parking and highway implications.

Permission will also be required for commercial extractor flues if cooking is intended to be carried out on the premises.

The placing of tables and chairs on the highway* is very likely to require a licence from the highway authority to allow them to assess factors such as pedestrian movements, sight lines and road safety.

Changes in signage are likely to require express Advertisement Consent.

You may also require the consent of the landlord or landowner for any works.

*Highway refers to footways and verges associated with publicly maintained roads.

Read the guidance on the use classes within planning.

Building Regulations

The building regulations may apply to certain changes of use of an existing building even though you may think that the work involved in the project will not amount to 'Building Work'. You may wish to contact your local Building Control body for further advice.


I want to erect/change/alter a shop advert, fascia or projecting sign.

All advertisements require Advertisement Consent either from the local planning authority unless it is automatically permitted by virtue of planning legislation. This is known as “deemed consent”

For example, many traditional, non-illuminated fascia signs and hanging signs are likely to have deemed consent subject to a number of conditions and limitations such as size.

If an advert meets all the criteria of deemed consent you will not require express consent from the Local Planning Authority.

Read 'Outdoor advertisements and signs: a guide for advertisers' for a detailed explanation of the planning regime for adverts and signs.

Read the details on the specifics of deemed consent.

Because inappropriate adverts can harm an area visually (and even economically) many authorities have produced supplementary guidance on the design of suitable adverts and commercial signage.

Other adverts without deemed consent will require express advertisement consent from the local planning authority. If the building is listed you will also require Listed Building Consent.

The display of an advert without consent is a criminal offence, so you must always ensure that you have the appropriate consent, or the Local Planning Authority may take action to secure its removal, including prosecution.

You may also require the consent of the landlord or landowner.


This is an introductory guide and is not a definitive source of legal information. Read the full disclaimer here.

This guidance relates to the planning regime for England. Policy in Wales may differ. If in doubt contact your Local Planning Authority.