Tesco’s planned move into homebuilding could lead to it dominating the UK economy, experts have claimed.

The UK’s largest retailer plans to build four ‘mini-villages’ in the southeast of England in its effort to diversify beyond retail.

The retailer, which last week announced record profits of £3.4bn, is also planning a series of smaller mixed homes, shops and leisure developments in Ipswich and the northeast.

Dozens of homes would be built near Tesco stores, in plans the supermarket said could create up to 1,000 new jobs.

Last month Lambeth Council approved plans to build 200 homes, a bus depot and ice rink in Streatham, south London. Approval is expected next month for 400 homes, a primary school, hotel and park next to the Olympic's Park in east London.

Other ‘mini-villages’ are to be built in Dartford and Woolwich, while Tesco has already constructed flats next to stores in Clapham and Kensington.

“Through these developments we are able to invest and create jobs in areas that many other developers cannot and will not,” a Tesco spokesman said.

But critics said Tesco could come to dominate the lives of its consumers.

“There’s a sense Tesco is using its market power to dominate aspects of the economy,” Josh Ryan-Collins of New Economics Foundation told The Times.

“There is a need for more affordable housing but there is a danger with Tesco’s moves. If they provide the mortgage, if they act as estate agent, if they provide a credit card, if they sell you a house, they will end up with more personal information about you than the government.”

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