Tesco has announced plans to open 2.4million sq ft of selling space - equivalent to 80 superstores - in Britain this year.

It added two million sq ft of new retail space in the UK in the year to March.

Chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said: "We have been helped in property by the recession. Local authorities want the jobs and the investment, so we've been able to get a few more store applications through. That's good news."

However, his message was countered by James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores. Writing in The Independent, Lowman said: "The question is 'how big is too big?' Tesco accounts for more than 30% of the grocery market, and its supporters say that if customers didn't like Tesco they would not shop there. But there is a point where this loses credibility. In many 'Tesco towns' it's not that easy to find an alternative."

Tesco's promise of some 9,000 new jobs would open doors with local councils, Lowman said, but he called for national and local government to insist on "smaller scale, better located and better integrated" developments.