Tesco's store development in Slough is courting controversy again. This time the retailer is being accused of trying to "sterilise" the Berkshire town's retail space.

Slough Borough Council has criticised Tesco for failing to do anything with a former Extra that is now empty.]

The OFT had told Tesco to sell off the store once its newly built Tesco Extra was ready to open, less than a mile away. The new store opened last August but the old Extra has remained boarded up ever since.

Council leader Richard Stokes said he had been trying in vain to get information out of Tesco. "If they are just sterilising the land so rivals can't use it, then it is not acceptable," he said.

Tesco confirmed the site was not up for sale, but said it had always been open about its plans to redevelop the land in the course of time.

A spokesman said: "Tesco does not have a land bank so this couldn't possibly be part of it. We buy land to develop. This site was key to our customers while we were constructing the new store in Slough."

A similar situation has been highlighted by St Albans MP Anne Main.

She claims that for the past four years Tesco has owned a row of houses and shops that are now in a derelict condition.

"St Albans presents a prime example of Tesco's approach to buying up tranches of prime retail sites and then leaving them undeveloped for years," she said.

The charges come as the spotlight shines on Tesco's amassed land holdings, an issue that OFT chief John Fingleton has singled out should the industry be referred to the Competition Commission.