The expression 'material change of use', or MCU for short, refers to the full term defined in the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 'material change of use, of premises'. It means in respect of land or a building, starting a new use, re-establishing an abandoned use, or materially increasing the scale or intensity of a use. Some examples are replacing a house with a shopping centre, converting an industrial building into a retail warehouse, recommencing a service station after the pumps and tanks are removed, expanding a dining area associated with a restaurant into a garden area doubling its size.

We have, on several occasions, been able to persuade councils that a proposed expansion of a business only involves 'building work assessable under the planning scheme' rather than constituting a material change of use, meaning a simpler development application and saving considerable expense.