Three supermarket chains are competing to gain a foothold in a medieval market town named as the nicest place in Britain.

Tesco, Sainsbury's and Lidl are all applying for planning permission to build stores in Alnwick, Northumberland. Only one of them is likely to triumph.

The historic town, which is home to the Duke of Northumberland, was recently voted the best place in Britain to live by Country Life magazine. It has become a popular tourist destination following the Harry Potter films, which used Alnwick Castle as one location.

Now the supermarket chains are hoping to cast a spell on the town's 32,000 residents, organising exhibitions, leaflet drops and advertising campaigns to persuade them to back their bids to build a store.

Alnwick currently only has a Morrisons and campaigners claim many people drive 30 miles to Newcastle to do their weekly shop.

Tesco held a three-day exhibition in the town to outline its plans. A spokesman said 300 people left comments, only two of which were negative. Sainsbury's also held an exhibition and said a leaflet drop to homes had elicited 1,800 responses, of which 96% were in favour.

All three applications will go before the local council on 20 September.