Defining the planning unit
Defining the planning unit

The following Planning guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Defining the planning unit
  • Why is it important to establish the planning unit?
  • Tests

Why is it important to establish the planning unit?

Planning permission is required where there has been a material change of use (see Practice Note: Planning—material change of use). The courts use the concept of the planning unit to determine the area of land to be considered when identifying the primary use of land (and its ancillary uses), and whether any material change of use has occurred.

In addition, local planning authorities taking enforcement action against a breach of planning control need to determine the extent of the planning unit to establish whether there has been an unauthorised change of use. See Practice Note: Planning—enforcement.


In Burdle, the court set out tests to assist in identifying the planning unit:

Starting point—establish the unit of occupation

Bridge J sugg

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