A bitter 14-year battle by small shopkeepers to keep Tesco out of the Norfolk town of Sheringham has been lost by a hair's breadth.

To the bitter disappointment of residents and local businesses who opposed the application, North Norfolk District Council has given the go-ahead to the development after a casting vote by the planning committee chairman tipped the delicate 7-7 balance.

The supermarket is due to open in 2012, but this could be delayed if Waitrose which had also submitted an application for a store in the area decides to appeal against the decision.

Jill Batchelor, manager of a Budgens store in the town, said she feared that the new 1,500sq metre outlet would harm town centre trade and the future of small shops. "Anyone looking to do a larger shop is more likely to go there," she said.

Elsewhere in the country Tesco has launched its fourth application to build an Express store in Harefield, Greater London. Local Londis retailer Atul Sodha has mobilised local residents to sign a petition against the multiple's plans, which he claims will create massive congestion in the area.