How to choose the perfect commercial property types

If you have a business and are looking for premises, you might be wondering what type of commercial property is right for you and your needs. Equally you should take care to choose the right type of property if you want an investment. It’s not always as simple as choosing any commercial building, there are different types that are divided into classes under the Town and Country Planning Order of 1987. In this guide, we’ll be exploring how to select the perfect commercial property type for your business requirements.


What are the different types of commercial property?

The classifications for commercial buildings established in 1987 were recently revised in 2020, with the previous classes of A1, A2, A3, B1, D1, and D2 all being banded as Class E. Below we have explained each property type in detail, to offer a greater insight into what they are able to be used for and how that could work for your business, whether you’re looking for an investment or you intend to use the premises yourself.


Offices are under Class E and are defined as spaces for financial services like banks, professional services (excluding medical), estate and employment agencies, and a space used to complete operational or admin duties. If you’re an investor or a business, you’ll want to consider the location of any offices you’re considering purchasing.

This is because employees value the convenience of an easy commute when travelling to a workplace. Is the office close to public transport areas like bus stops and train stations? Is it easily accessible by car and is there parking available? These are questions you’ll want to think about. The facilities in the building are also important such as reliable internet connectivity, air conditioning/heating, private meeting rooms etc.


Retail spaces can fall under two different classifications depending on the purpose of the building. Class E includes cafes, retail shops, and restaurants whilst Class F.2 is defined as shops no bigger than 280 square-feet in size, selling only essential goods and are at least 1km from another shop of a similar nature.

Make sure if you’re looking at retail space you know which classification the building comes under. As with offices, it’s beneficial to look at location when buying retail space as you want to feel confident that it will get a lot of foot traffic from people walking past.


Industrial classes are very specific with intended uses for certain types of businesses. Similar to retail, industrial buildings can be divided into different classes. B2 covers buildings that are used for advancing an industrial process other than one that falls within Class E or B3 to B7.

B8 defines buildings that are used for storage and distribution such as warehouses, repositories, and distribution centres. These are the two most common classes for general businesses or investors who are wanting to invest an industrial property. Whereas classes B3 to B7 are more specialist with niche definitions.


Leisure is a broad category with several different building classifications. If you’re looking at this type of commercial property, be sure to read each use class carefully so you know which one best applies to you.

  • F.1 encompasses non-domestic and educational establishments such as schools, community centres, libraries, museums, judicial buildings, exhibition spaces, religious sites, and learning and training facilities.
  • F.2 defines buildings for local community use, including shops no bigger than 280 square metres that sell essential goods and are within 1km of another similar shop. Some examples include community halls, ice skating rinks, indoor or outdoor swimming baths, and outdoor sports venues that don’t involve firearms or motorised vehicles.
  • E includes buildings for business, commercial, and service uses like shops travel agencies, financial and professional services, cafes and restaurants, clinics, health centres, nurseries, gymnasiums, and indoor recreations to name a few examples.
  • C.1 is specifically related to hotels and boarding or guest houses.


There are two classifications for healthcare buildings, Class E covers clinics, day nurseries or day centres, and health centres. Category C2 encompasses residential institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, care facilities, boarding schools, residential colleges, and training centres.


Why is choosing the right property type important?

The Town and Country Planning Order 1987 (updated in 2020) determines how each type of commercial property should be occupied. Each type will have its purpose determined by their respective local authority, referred to as “use classes”. Any business done in the commercial property must be in accordance with its planning use, or you could be fined. The property classification has two main functions:

  • It helps the planners of an area make sure that the area doesn’t include specific property types if necessary. This is typically to reduce the number of complaints, for example no pubs.
  • It clarifies what types of businesses are allowed to move into the building.

With this in mind, it is important to have an understanding of what use class the commercial property you’re interested in has. Not only will this ensure the business is successful as possible in a building that is adapted to its specific operational needs, but also ensures you don’t face an expensive fine for not using the building how it was intended and classified.


Professional commercial conveyancing solicitors

Once you have found the perfect commercial property type for you and you’re ready to purchase, you’ll need experienced conveyancers. Our team of commercial conveyancing solicitors in Consett and across the North East at Toomey Legal, have the relevant knowledge and expertise to make the buying process as efficient as possible. Get a quote online today and please contact us if you have any questions or queries.