Lobby groups and campaigners have launched a last-ditch appeal to government to rethink proposals which could make it easier for supermarkets to develop out-of-town stores.
The proposals to revise current planning laws for town centres were first set out in the government's planning White Paper published last May. They could yet be adapted to include guidelines based on the Competition Commission inquiry into the grocery market, which suggests that more out-of-town stores will increase competition between supermarkets.
A coalition of organisations including the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), Friends of the Earth and the Campaign to Protect Rural England has warned against the shake-up, which it believes will lead to the demise of high streets and independent stores.
The ACS said it expected a consultation to begin shortly, possibly as soon as next month.