Section 8: Change of classification or use of a building

Sometimes a building owner or occupier may wish to use the building for a purpose contrary to the approved use or classification of the building detailed on the current occupancy permit. The Building Act sets out the process for obtaining approval for either a change of classification or a change of use within the same classification.

Change of classification (ss. 43, 49(b) and r. 47) 

This is when it is proposed to change the existing BCA classification of a building or incidental structure to a completely different classification. For example, a Class 5 office building is proposed to be used as a Class 9b assembly building.

The proposed classification of the building will determine which approval pathway is required under the Building Act. In Section 5 of this guide it sets out the process for applying for an occupancy permit where one is required.

Changing the classification of a Class 2 to Class 9 building (ss. 43, 49(b)) 

A person may apply for a new occupancy permit to replace the current occupancy permit when it is proposed that an existing building’s classification is to be different from that set out in the current occupancy permit. A change of classification requires the building to comply with the current building standards relevant for the new classification. In most cases this will entail building work to be carried out to meet the requirements for the new classification. In which case, a building permit may be required before works can start and it may be then more appropriate to apply for an occupancy permit under s.46 for the new classification as a completed building.

Notifications for a Class 1 building (r. 47)

Where it is proposed to change to a Class 1 classification from an existing Class 2 to a Class 10 classification or to change from a Class 1a to a Class 1b classification, the owner must give written notice to the relevant permit authority at least 10 business days before the proposed change. The notification must include or be accompanied by evidence that the existing building or incidental structure complies with the applicable building standards for the proposed new classification. If building work is required to comply with the applicable building standards then a building permit may be required to undertake this work.

Change of use (ss. 43, 49(a))

This is where a building is proposed to be used in a way that is different from the use authorised by the current occupancy permit, either permanently or on a temporary basis, but the classification remains unchanged.

Permanent change of use (ss. 43, 49(a))

A person can apply for an occupancy permit to allow for a permanent change of use without building work that would normally require a building permit.

For example, a Class 6 building that was originally used for the purpose of a café, and is now proposed to be used as a hairdressing salon. In this example the building still retains a Class 6 classification despite the change of use. A permanent change of use may also require planning or other prior approvals even though building work may not be required.

Temporary additional use (ss. 43, 48)

A person can apply to modify the current occupancy permit of an existing building to allow for a short-term additional use not currently provided for under the permanent occupancy permit The permit authority can modify the occupancy permit for a period of up to one year, providing the additional use does not require building work of a kind for which a building permit would be required.

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