Delegates at a business property forum in Birmingham, which included representatives from developers and retailers, believe there are moves afoot that might pave the way for out-of-town centres to continue their growth despite government planning objectives.
Charles Elliot, a director of the Birmingham Alliance - which is co-ordinating a range of developments in Birmingham, said: 'Developers together with local authorities will be nurturing these existing out-of-town centres into district centres.'
Other experts suggested that the out-of-town regional centres will be forced to offer a more 'all-round shopping experience' if they are to continue to compete successfully with emerging retail centres in such cities as Birmingham, Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield.
'They are also calling themselves 24-hour cities. That is different from out-of-town centres, which die at a certain point in the day. City centres offer an all-round experience - living, leisure and shopping.'