The Government has been warned it will be signing the 'death warrant of the high street' if it approves proposals to make it easier for supermarkets to build on the edge of towns. Daily Telegraph, The Times

The Competition Commission will publish a series of recommendations today after its two-year investigation into the £120billion supermarket industry. A change to planning rules which could lead to more superstores on the edge of towns is expected to be among them.

It is a move that has appalled campaigners, who say that, over the past decade, the increasing dominance of supermarkets has led to thousands of butchers, greengrocers and other specialists going out of business.

A series of confidential papers circulated recently to interested parties suggests that the present needs test, which now prevents the building of too many supermarkets in a town centre, should be dropped. The plan, fiercely opposed by small retailers and environmentalists, is in line with government proposals in last year’s planning White Paper.

Under the needs test, councils assess the need for a supermarket against local requirements and population levels. Put simplistically, one supermarket is needed for roughly 50,000 people.

Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, has made clear that she wants to drop the test, but has proposed a tighter market impact test to help to protect smaller retailers.