The future of the out of town retail park — that most reviled and loved of shopping destinations — is hanging in the balance.

DIY chains and large white goods retailers that have gone out of business are vacating stores, leaving millions of square feet sitting empty. Soft-furnishing retailers are being lined up to move in, but agents trying to shift the space say there is one thing standing in the way: council planning departments.

Existing vacant stores in out-of-town retail parks, as well as those planned for unfinished new developments, are “unlettable”, says Savills, the property consultancy, due to planning restrictions that allow only bulky goods retailers to rent the space.

The Times