The British Government has announced new guidance for town centres that aims to prioritise town centre shops over out-of-town developments.
The revamped system stated in Planning Policy Statement 4 combines town centre and economic development.
According to the new guidelines, the sequential test for town planners requires central town centre sites to be developed first for shops, leisure and offices rather than out-of-town sites.
An impact test is also being introduced which replaces the needs test and aims to give councils better controls over big developments which put small shops and town centres at risk.
Using this test, developments harming town centres will be assessed against factors such as climate change, impact on the high street, consumer choice, consumer spending and jobs.