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What is Class MA?

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What is Class MA? 

Class MA (Mercantile to Abode) is one of the most exciting changes to permitted development rights for decades! This new PD right allows for most properties that are registered under Use Class E to be converted to residential. 

This unlocks huge potential from commercial buildings such as shops, restaurants, cafes, offices, light industrial, medical centres, creches, day nurseries, indoor sports centres and anything in use Class E.  

Are there any limitations?

Use – Any conversions under Class MA must be strictly for Class 3 residential use, so a conversion to HMO for example, would not be permitted.  

Size – The total floor space must be less than 1,500 sqm, roughly the size of a luxury apartment block!

Vacant – The building must have been vacant for a period of 3 months before the application for Prior Approval. 

Date Stamp – There is a date stamp under the new Class MA meaning the property must have been in use Class E for at least 2 years 

Location – There are some areas where Class MA does not apply:

  • Article 2(3) Land – AONB, SPA, the Broads, National Park, World Heritage Site
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • Safety Hazard Zone
  • Military Explosives Area
  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument

You can convert commercial to residential in a conservation area, note that an impact assessment will be undertaken if converting the ground floor.


When does it apply?

The new Class MA permitted development rights will be in effect from 1st August 2021.  The application has a time limit for the prior approval of 56 days and you have three years from the date of the prior approval to carry out the works.

You’ll want to accelerate your site finding, prioritise, and plan all your options using a service like Nimbus Maps, then submit your application to the local planning department. 


What are the benefits for property entrepreneurs?   

The introduction of Class MA means that the Government have brought a huge number of buildings into the market for conversion, increasing opportunity and promoting entrepreneurship in property 

The sheer amount of buildings alone, brings opportunity for landlords and property entrepreneurs to move into development, even if on a smaller scale, as converting and developing could mean capital is generated much quicker than in a buy-to-let investment.  

Further to this, the increase from 150 square metres to 1,500 square meters means more space for more development and more profitable opportunities.  


How can you find the best Class MA conversions?

Finding the best commercial to residential conversion opportunities might feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Good news! Our clever engineers at Nimbus Maps have done all the work for you – our new intelligent Commercial to Residential conversion overlay will highlight the hidden value of commercial space if converted to residential in one click And it only shows sites that meet the criteria.



We have found the super profitable sites for you…

The new Class MA, commercial to residential overlay, from Nimbus Maps, highlights Class E commercial properties, with a floor space less than 1,500 sqm, that have a residential feel to them and would therefore be suitable for conversion to residential under Class MA PD rights.

We’ve excluded any properties that don’t meet the criteria such as:

  • Article 2(3) Land – AONB, SPA, the Broads, National Park, World Heritage Site
  • Scheduled monuments
  • Listed buildings
  • Flood zones 2 or 3


We’ve included all the information you need to check it out including:

  • Title number
  • Address
  • Size of site (from rates assessment)
  • Rates assessment per sq.ft.
  • Local residential value
  • Predicted return on cost and the calculation used to calculate it


And then we’ve highlighted the sites that present the highest predicted return on costs.

  • 15-20% return on cost
  • 20-25% return on cost
  • 25-30% return on cost
  • 30-35% return on cost
  • 35%+ return on cost


It’s a game changer!

Book a demo of Nimbus Maps and our experts will show you how to transform the way you find and assess sites. 

Interested in learning even more about Class MA? Watch our free expert property webinar with Nimbus Maps Co-Founder, Paul Davis and Sky TV Property “Angel”, Ranjan Bhattacharya to ensure you make the most of this opportunity.

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