The expression 'material change of use', or MCU for short, refers to the full term defined in the Planning Act 2016 'material change of use, of premises'. It means starting a new use, re-establishing an abandoned use, or materially increasing the scale or intensity of the 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.