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Explained: Industrial Unit Use Classes

Whatever your business, your industrial units need to carry the appropriate use class. Here, we've outlined the difference between each one.

Industrial units are hugely versatile spaces and sometimes, it can feel like there’s no end to what you can get up in them.

Whether you’re in the business of manufacturing, processing, shipping, or storing, industrial units play a vital part in making things happen for countless businesses.

But it’s not just as simple as jumping into any industrial space and getting on with it - there’s the small matter of ensuring that the unit carries a suitable use class for your business. 

Regardless of how you plan to use your industrial unit, there’s sure to be a suitable option within FI Real Estate Management’s 6m sq ft portfolio of industrial space. 

Find the Perfect Industrial Unit for your Business with FI Real Estate Management

Planning use classes are the legal framework that determines what a property may be used for by its occupants, and they were given a shake up in September 2020 to better reflect the diversity of uses on high streets and in town centres to give businesses the flexibility to adapt and meet changing demands. 

Despite that retail focus, the reform spelt changes for commercial and business uses too. So what does the structure for industrial units look like now? 

Skip to: Class E | Class B2Class B3 | Class B4 | Class B5 | Class B6 | Class B7 | Class B8 | Class 'Sui Generis'

Class E

Still known as Class B1 in Wales, Class E refers to a property suitable for any light industrial process that can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit.

Class E also includes: 

  • retail warehouses
  • sandwich bars and cafes or other cold food to be consumed off the premises
  • showrooms 
  • gyms
  • indoor recreation not involving motorised vehicles or firearms
  • properties used for research & development of products or processes

Class B2

B2 is a broad one. Properties grouped into this class carry out industrial processes other than those that fall within E/B1 above or within classes B3 to B7 below.

Classes B3-B7

These five use classes focus on the uses, processes and manufacture of chemicals, metalwork, acids, oils, animal by-products and mining and quarrying.

B3: Class B3 building use is for any work registrable under the Alkali &c Works Regulation Act 1906, which is not included in any of classes B4 to B7 below.

B4: Class B4 building use refers to any of the following processes:

  • smelting, calcining, sintering or reducing ores, minerals, concentrates or mattes
  • converting, refining, re-heating, annealing, hardening, melting, carburising, forging or casting metals or alloys other than pressure die-casting
  • recovering metal from scrap or drosses or ashes
  • galvanizing
  • pickling or treating metal in acid
  • chromium plating

B5: Class B5 building use covers any of the following:

  • burning bricks or pipes
  • burning lime or dolomite
  • producing zinc oxide, cement or alumina
  • foaming, crushing, screening or heating minerals or slag
  • processing pulverized fuel ash by heat (f) producing carbonate of lime or hydrated lime
  • producing inorganic pigments by calcining, roasting or grinding

Both B4 & B5 classes do not cover the processes if they are ancillary to acquiring, dressing or treatment of minerals and are carried on in or adjacent to a quarry or mine.

B6: Class B6 building use refers to any of the following processes:

  • distilling, refining or blending oils (other than petroleum or petroleum products)
  • producing or using cellulose or using other pressure sprayed metal finishes (other than in vehicle repair workshops in connection with minor repairs, or the application of plastic powder by the use of fluidised bed and electrostatic spray techniques)
  • boiling linseed oil or running gum
  • processes involving the use of hot pitch or bitumen (except the use of bitumen in the manufacture of roofing felt at temperatures not exceeding 220°C and also the manufacture of coated roadstone)
  • stoving enamelled ware
  • producing aliphatic esters of the lower fatty acids, butyric acid, caramel, hexamine, iodoform, napthols, resin products (excluding plastic moulding or extrusion operations and producing plastic sheets, rods, tubes, filaments, fibres or optical components produced by casting, calendering, moulding, shaping or extrusion), salicylic acid or sulphonated organic compounds
  • producing rubber from scrap
  • chemical processes in which chlorphenols or chlorcresols are used as intermediates
  • manufacturing acetylene from calcium carbide
  • manufacturing, recovering or using pyridine or picolines, any methyl or ethyl amine or acrylates

B7: Class B7 building use focuses on animal by-products and covers any of the following: 

  • boiling blood, chitterlings, nettlings or soap
  • boiling, burning, grinding or steaming bones
  • boiling or cleaning tripe
  • breeding maggots from putrescible animal matter
  • cleaning, adapting or treating animal hair
  • curing fish
  • dealing in rags and bones (including receiving, storing, sorting or manipulating rags in, or likely to become in, an offensive condition, or any bones, rabbit skins, fat or putrescible animal products of a similar nature)
  • dressing or scraping fish skins
  • drying skins
  • making manure from bones, fish, offal, blood, spent hops, beans or other putrescible animal or vegetable matter
  • making or scraping guts
  • manufacturing animal charcoal, blood albumen, candles, catgut, glue, fish oil, size or feeding stuff for animals or poultry from meat, fish, blood, bone, feathers, fat or animal offal either in an offensive condition or subjected to any process causing noxious or injurious effluvia
  • melting, refining or extracting fat or tallow
  • preparing skins for working

Class B8

This class would cover a building used as a distribution centre or for storage, including space used as open-air storage.

Class 'Sui Generis'

A Latin phrase that translates to ‘of its own kind’, ‘Sui Generis’ covers primarily leisure and entertainment uses that don’t fall into any of the other existing use classes. 

These include: 

  • theatres
  • houses in multiple paying occupation
  • hostels providing no significant element of care
  • scrap yards
  • petrol filling stations
  • shops selling or displaying motor vehicles
  • retail warehouse clubs
  • nightclubs
  • launderettes
  • taxi & minicab businesses
  • amusement centres
  • cinemas
  • concert halls
  • bingo halls
  • casinos
  • dance halls
  • live music venues
  • pubs
  • wine bars
  • other drinking establishments
  • hot food takeaway

Find the Perfect Industrial Unit for your Business with FI Real Estate Management

With a vast portfolio of properties throughout the UK spanning 6m sq ft, FI Real Estate Management has the breadth of industrial options to let, complemented by a team able to identify the most suitable fit for every occupant. 

Find industrial space to suit your business with FI Real Estate Management
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