If you are selling, leasing, seeking, buying or about to rent a commercial property it is worth taking the time to read the information on this page and the full version of The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987.
In some circumstances it may be possible to change the official use of a property, but this is at the discretion of the Local Authority Planning Department that has jurisdiction over it. For information and advice on changing the use of a property it is worth discussing your ideas with a local commercial estate agent who has experience in dealing with that particular planning office. They will tell you if your plans match those of the local planning policy and how much chance you have of achieving your goals.
Most properties in the UK have their 'nature of use' defined by the local authority that has jurisdiction over them.
A property with A3 usage, for example, can be used for "the sale of food or drink for consumption on the premises or of hot food for consumption off the premises".
This gives local town and country planners a lever that they can use to ensure that their plans for an area are realised. For example, they can reduce the number of late-night revellers in a residential area by ensuring that no commercial properties there have an A4 usage, e.g pubs. They might also want to prevent offices (B1 usage) in that area to ensure that there is more car parking available for residents during the day.
Uses for which no classes are specified are known as 'sui generis'.