The government has delayed a decision on whether to introduce a “competition test” for new supermarkets amid concerns over a legal challenge by Tesco.

Earlier this year the Competition Commission recommended that planning decisions should consider whether there were already too many stores from one particular chain in an area. However the plans have been opposed by Tesco, which is seen as the biggest potential loser if the competition test is introduced.

The publication last week by the communities department of revised planning guidance for town centres, which is expected to include the test, instead omitted it, said a further announcement would be due “shortly”.

The consultation, Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for Town Centres, proposes replacing the current “needs test”, which allows applications for out-of-town stores to be turned down if the council can prove there is no unmet consumer demand.

It proposes a more complex “impact test”, which includes an assessment of need as well as regeneration and local economy issues.