The UK government has dismissed accusations that it has bowed to pressure from supermarkets to amend the planning regime as baseless.

In its latest planning White Paper, 'planning for a sustainable future', the government announced its intention to axe the so-called "needs test" that requires supermarkets to demonstrate the need for out-of-town stores.

Reports in the UK press have drawn attention to the similarities between the arguments repeatedly put forward by the 'big three' supermarkets - Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's - and those contained in the While Paper.

The Conservatives, who originally introduced the "needs test", have also attacked the government's plan. According to a report in the Mail on Sunday, Tory planning spokesman Michael Gove said: "The Government is turning a deaf ear to environmental concerns and is planning to weaken the protections our High Streets enjoy."

However, a Labour spokesperson told just-food that these clams were without merit. "'Planning for a sustainable future' will allow councils to prioritise town centres over out-of-town shopping. It will provide the tools to keep our town centres vibrant."

Unveiling the White Paper, Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Minister for Women, said: ""Nobody will agree with every planning decision but our reforms will make the system better focused, fairer, faster and more accessible for all. They will support our goal of improving the places where we live, work, visit, and enjoy."