The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has warned that high streets are still in jeopardy from out-of-town developments.

In his evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee on the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework, chief executive James Lowman said local authorities need to get more involved in the planning process.

“Local plans should be the basis on which decisions are made on new developments,” he said. “However, there are so few compliant local plans that NPPF is being relied on to make these decisions. The town centre first policy within the NPPF is useful, but the supporting guidance and evidence of its implementation is sorely lacking.

“In many cases, the impact assessments that take place as part of the approvals process are being led by the developers and not by the local authorities, resulting in the number of approvals that are seen in our research.”

Lowman also cited ACS research which showed that 76% of all developments given approval since the new National Planning Policy Framework came into force are located out of town showing that sequential and impact tests are not being applied effectively.

The research was questioned during the session which Lowman felt was a “disappointing” reaction.

“We are disappointed that the government has not taken seriously the implications of our report,” he said. “A representative sample of 50% of all decisions made over an 18 month period is robust, and in line with other research – notably from CB Richard Ellis which tells a similar story. We would be very keen to meet with planning minister Nick Boles MP to go through the findings of our report in detail.”