Aldi is lobbying the Government not to push through changes to the planning laws that it feels would make store development too difficult.

Next year, communities secretary Hazel Blears plans to get rid of the controversial needs test, which requires developers to prove there is suitable demand for their scheme in a particular area.

Councils would instead be able to refuse planning permission to developments seen as having an detrimental effect on existing stores and town centres.

Aldi, which plans to build a store a week for the foreseeable future, argued that it would not be in consumers' interests to limit its expansion plans.

"If you have restrictive planning laws that protect the status quo, it's bad for competition and consumers," said Paul Foley, MD of Aldi UK and Ireland.