High-profile retailer Andrew Thornton of Thornton’s Budgens is leading a campaign against plans to build a Tesco Express in Belsize Park, north London.

Since July 2014, Tesco has been planning to build a Tesco Express on a former 1750 sq ft HSBC site, but it chose to submit its application for an alcohol licence over the Christmas period on December 20, which Andrew said caught people off guard.

He said: “All our businesses are honest, open and transparent. Submitting the application at this time only gives us two out of the four-week consultation period to oppose the planning which to me is not honest, open and transparent.”

The residents of Belsize have objected against Tesco’s plans. Protests have been held outside the HSBC bank and a petition has also been created, which so far has over 1,000 signatures. Actor Tom Conti is part of the campaign team and a number of councillors are also behind it.

Belsize Park is home to many local retailers, as well as two existing Tesco Express stores at either end of the park, a Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose and a Marks and Spencer’s. A local Londis has already said it would close if Tesco opens.

Andrew added: “We do not need any more food stores in the area. I have not spoken to a single person who is in favour of Tesco coming to Belsize.”

He fears that a new Tesco Express could put independent stores in danger. Tesco has agreed to pay rent 2.7 times greater than the current going rate, which he believes could have an adverse effect on the rent of other retailers.

Linda Grove, co-leader of the campaign, said the local residents did not believe Tesco would support them in the same way as the current local shops, such as Budgens, which provides a free home delivery service and plays a proactive role in community activities.

Furthermore, Tesco Express in West Hampstead continues to flaunt parking regulations, accruing a £13,000 fine in 2013 due to parking in unsuitable areas. Belsize Park faces a similar problem, Andrew said: “There is no access to the store other than to park illegally; the community does not want to welcome this type of behaviour.”

To sign the petition click here