Grocers have hit out at Tory plans to give more power to local councils to veto the development of shopping complexes.

Under the proposed overhaul of planning laws, supermarkets and retail parks will be built only if they pose no threat to local high streets.

The Tories plan to reinstate the needs test, scrapped by Labour after it came into power, meaning councils will take into account the amount of supermarkets in the area when giving the go ahead on new schemes.

Under the needs test, developers would have to prove the need for additional out-of-town development.

The Tory planning paper said Labour’s planning policy had “weakened councils’ ability to stop unwanted out-of-town development”.

A Competition Test is being mulled by Government currently that would make it harder for supermarkets to open stores where they are already dominant.

Tesco has rejected the need for a Competition Test.

A Tesco spokesperson told the Financial Times that politicians should make it easier to promote green development rather than “adding further complexity” to the system.

Another retail source told the newspaper there were “serious concerns”, particularly among larger supermarket chains, that the Tory proposals could curb investment.

However, the Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman welcomes the Tory green paper.

He said: “The removal of the needs test was a backward step in retail planning policy and we would like to see the Conservatives, if elected, insert the needs test into this policy.”