Tesco's secret deal with a Norfolk council has angered retailers and environmental groups.

The deal between the supermarket chain and North Norfolk District Council, preventing competitors opening on council-owned land, was criticised following a council probe (C-Store June 30, p4).

The deal has so far prevented Musgrave Budgens Londis (MBL) from developing a store for which it has planning permission. MBL property director James Pye, who attended a recent public meeting of the council, said he was angry that the deal was still legally binding. Should the council break it, he said, it could cost a seven-figure sum in compensation.

He added that MBL was now seeking its own legal advice.

Friends of the Earth has called on the supermarket giant to pull out of its 10-year battle to get planning permission for a store in Norfolk's Sheringham as proof it really does want to be considered a good neighbour.

Friends of the Earth supermarket campaigner Sandra Bell said: "Tesco's claims to be a good neighbour will not be believed by communities like Sheringham that are fighting through the planning process. 

"Rather than becoming a green and socially responsible company, Tesco is using every trick in the book to coerce local authorities."

She claimed that Sheringham was one of more than 75 communities around Britain that had been involved in site battles with Tesco.