17 April 2019/ Tenant Guide

What is a class A property?

A guide to commercial property uses: unpacking Class A leases

As tends to be the case whenever bureaucracy and planning regulations are involved, the classifications for the different types of commercial property are abstruse and a little time-consuming. But they are important.

Knowing your way around the regulations before you even start searching for a new building is important. Appointing a commercial property surveyor, otherwise known as an agent, is always a good idea, especially if you’re new to business. And when it comes to the contracts, your solicitors will be there to help. But you still need to have a good idea about the different types of properties out there, and what each can and can’t be used for.

327 Caledonian Road N1Retail unit:  327 Caledonian Road, London N1 1DW

We’ve put together a simple guide to help you work through the regulations.

Under the regulations within the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order of 1987, Class A was divided into three key categories (A1, A2 and A3), each covering a particular grouping of shop uses.

Almost all retail stores come under Class A1 – this covers typical high street and shopping centre shops, selling any goods other than hot food. But note, it does include shops selling cold food for consumption off the premises, so newsagents selling sandwiches, for instance, are within this class.

Also coming within Class A1 are a number of other typical high street business – travel agencies, ticket-sellers, post offices, hairdressers, nail bars, funeral directors, shops hiring out domestic goods, clothes repair shops, dry cleaners, and a number of other businesses or services with a retail frontage, such as specialist repair shops or cleaners.

Class A2 covers businesses that might be on the high street but don’t have a retail, trading aspect, in other words companies offering services rather than goods. This includes high street accountancy firms, a wide range of financial services companies, professional services such as mortgages and loans and some services which can be accessed via the public, or to quote the legislation, “any other services [including betting offices] which it is appropriate to provide in a shopping area, where the services are provided principally to visiting members of the public”.

134 Kingsland RoadRetail unit: 134a Kingsland Road, London E2 8DY

The third category within this field, Class A3, covers, broadly, any shop or café which is going to be used to sell hot and cold food which can be eaten on site. This catches a wide range of businesses, from coffee shops to greasy spoon cafes and fine dining restaurants. It also includes places, such as takeaways, where people aren’t necessarily going to be eating on site but are selling hot food.