Speaking at last week's Heart Of The Community seminar, ACS chief executive James Lowman said that independent retailers were in danger of being wiped out unless change was implemented, and fast.
"Our high streets are under threat from a combination of reduced investment, poorly applied planning rules and some aggressive supermarket expansion," he said.
"Many of the town centres that do survive will become clone towns," he added.
According to Lowman, 87% of all retail floor space given planning approval since 2008 belonged to the big four supermarket chains, with Tesco accounting for 60% of this.
He called for a more balanced approach to retail planning that would help sustain high streets and independent retailers. "Councils do not appear to be in control of growth, and are failing to direct it to the locations where it will bring the most benefits," he said. "Changes to the planning rules in December 2009 do not seem to be working as poor decisions are being made across the country undermining the 'town centre first' policy."
His warning came on the day that the government pledged to help small businesses and boost economic growth. Announcing a cross-government package of policies to aid businesses, Minister for Business and Enterprise Mark Prisk promised to improve access to finance and make it easier to do business with the public sector.