How Do I Sell a Building for Religious Occpation – School – Day Nursery or Medical Uses 2


Planning Permission:

Does your existing building have the necessary planning permission for the purpose which the buyer will wish to use the building for?

For a place of worship, School, Day nursery, or medical uses, the use must be D1 under the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order. For simplicity in these FAQs we will simply refer to “D1 or D2” etc.

Planning permission arises in two ways. It can arise either following an express planning permission having been granted by the local planning authority or alternatively as a result of the building having been used for long enough to give it “established use”.

In either case your planning adviser should clarify the situation so as to allow you to present the situation clearly to your buyer / tenant.

An unrestricted D1 use in addition to including the use as a place of worship and church also includes non-residential institutions, clinics, medical and dental, health centres, crèches/day nurseries, schools, training, education, consulting rooms, museums, art galleries public halls, libraries and exhibition halls. If the use is unrestricted this may mean that you have a wider market of potential purchasers, etc who would wish to take the property as they can use the building for another use which, whilst different from yours, is one which is still permitted as a D1 use.

However depending on the specific situation, the planning permission for your property may be restricted e.g. that it may only allow the use as a medical practice or a school or a day nursery or as a place of worship/Church etc and not allow a use for another purpose.

Express planning permissions may have some limitations e.g. opening times, numbers of people attending, parking restrictions etc.

Of course not all D1 permissions allow the relevant property to be used for religious assembly/community purposes. Additionally if you occupy a property which has been let to you, the terms of the lease are likely to contain provisions which will limit the use, and change of use of the building. Further if you are a tenant and seeking to transfer the lease you will almost certainly have to consider the terms of the lease to see what limitations there are which will affect your right / ability to carry out such a transfer.

The point is that the situation should be carefully investigated before the property is marketed.

You should take advice from a planning consultant to establish that it has all necessary consents with only acceptable restrictions so that your requirements and wishes are fully met.

Your current property may be suitable for conversion/ redevelopment to other uses such as residential or commercial i.e. a use which is not “D1”.

If your current property is to be used for a different use you will have to get planning permission for it.

You should be aware that many councils include within their Unitary Development Plan (UDP – determines their approach to considering planning applications) a requirement that you cannot remove the existing D1 use unless you can demonstrate and prove over an extended period of marketing that there is no demand for D1 uses. This marketing could be requested of up to 1 to 2 years and you will be required to prove this with suitable marketing material, advertising and inspections.

You should not assume that it is in any way a formality that the council would allow a change of use.

Again if your property is a lease as opposed to a freehold then you need to consider if the lease allows this change of use.

Planning is a complex subject in its own right and for this purpose only a brief outline of some issues involved has been given. Please feel free to call to discuss this issue. Ultimately however, you may need to obtain advice from a planning consultant.


We are currently occupying industrial/commercial premises for D1 use but without D1 permission and the Council now want to close us down. What do we do?

This is always a difficult position to be faced with. Initially you should instruct a planning consultant for advice. Assuming you have no valid grounds to oppose the council’s actions, you could try to submit a retrospective planning application. An alternative would be to move to a property which has the correct planning permission.

There is no easy solution in this situation.


Can I use a property which has D2 use for D1 religious purposes?

D2 covers such uses as assembly or leisure to include, cinemas, music and concert halls, banqueting, dance, sports halls, gyms, swimming baths and skating rinks.

If your main requirement is for religious assembly/community purposes or for other uses within D1 use class then the answer is generally no.

If your principle use is for religious assembly and you intend to use the premises on other occasions for community uses, banqueting, day nursery etc then you will need to change the use to D1. Conversely if your principle use is for banqueting or other uses within D2 but use the property occasionally for religious assembly purposes then you would generally not need a change of use unless there is a specific restriction within the planning permission. If the property is held on a lease, check its terms to ascertain if such a use is permitted.

In all cases it will depend on the terms of the actual planning permission which relates to the property.

If you require a building that includes both D1 and D2 uses then this may be a hard property to find. We suggest that you call us to discuss the matter further and ultimately you will need to obtain independent professional advice.


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