A new government planning system could make it easier for supermarkets to build unwanted stores, independent shopkeepers have warned.

The Association of Convenience Stores claims the government’s latest planning policy document would pave the way for unwanted supermarket development.

The planning document suggests replacing the ‘needs test’ – under which developers must prove a need for their project – with an ‘impact test’ that would take into account a proposed scheme’s effect on the local community.

The government claims the proposed system would give local authorities more autonomy – but the ACS said big supermarket groups would be able to steamroller local opposition.

“Ministers have a long way to go to convince us that the new policy will be effective in preventing highly resourced and determined supermarkets from imposing unwanted new developments on communities,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman.