Clients frequently ask us to advise on the circumstances that cause their premises to fall into one use class or another.

Indeed, we have blogged on a series of appeals highlighting the factors that tend to separate sandwich shops (Class 1 use), cafes (Class 3 use) andhot food takeaways (sui generis use).

A recent appeal against an enforcement notice relating to a bar and restaurant on Argyle Street in Glasgow considered the difference between a restaurant (Class 3 use) and a pub (sui generis use).

There was no dispute between the parties that the premises had formerly operated as a restaurant, but the question was whether it had become a pub without the necessary planning permission for change of use being obtained.

In this case the reporter noted the characteristics of operations that supported use as a restaurant:

  • the serving of hot meals;
  • food preparation on the premises; and
  • advance bookings being required for large dining parties.

He considered, though, that the serving of food was not conclusive, as pubs have been increasingly likely to offer hot meals in recent decades.


  • the presence of a bar;
  • bar stools;
  • two dart boards;
  • a dance floor;
  • a regular live music programme;
  • tables not laid for food; and
  • groups of customers enjoying drinks without food

were considered to point more strongly towards use as a public house so that a breach of planning control had occurred.

This case is a sobering reminder that as business operations grow and/or adapt such incremental changes may eventually give rise to a new use in planning terms, depending on the individual facts and circumstances of the case.

While in England and Wales the legislation is slightly different, the outcome would likely have been the same on account of the separation between Class A3 for restaurants and Class A4 for public houses, wine bars and other drinking establishments except night clubs.


Victoria Lane

Senior Associate