The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has challenged the government’s high street adviser Mary Portas to take decisive action to protect independent retailers ahead of her review.

At a meeting, the ACS recommended a stronger town centre first national planning policy and to drive investment on high streets through business rates income.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “ACS supports the High Streets review, and there is no doubting Mary Portas’s commitment to diverse and vibrant high streets. The key to achieving this lies in effective planning policy and a fair approach to rates. There is a fundamental tension between out of town retail parks and community retailing, and this review has to get to the heart of this battle. Non-confrontational best practice advice will not suffice.

“We will continue to work with Mary Portas to promote radical changes around out of town parking, business rates and planning policy to ensure the future of our high streets.”

ACS said while the number of out of town retail developments under construction has fallen, there is currently over 30 million sq ft of out of town development space at pipeline stage – enough to cover the City of London. The pipeline of town centre development is just over seven million sq ft.