The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has told MPs there is a need for stronger guidance and enforcement of planning rules to support high streets and curb the development of unsustainable out of town retail parks.

The call came in its submission to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Research conducted for ACS at the end of last year showed that since the new national planning policy framework had come into effect, 76% of all approved floor space was located out of town.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said ‘Town centre first’ had become a slogan rather than a planning policy. He added: “It is not being properly applied by many councils, and the Government is not defending it. As a result, we are seeing a wave of approvals for out of town developments that will damage high streets.

“We are calling on ministers to call in developments that do not meet town centre first principles, and to issue further guidance to embed this approach. The Communities and Local Government Select Committee must take this chance to shine a light on the problems in the planning system.”