Budgens retailer Andrew Thornton is leading a campaign to stop a Tesco Express store from opening in North London.

The ‘Stop Tesco Coming to Belsize Park’ campaign protested outside the proposed 1,750 sq ft site in Haverstock Hill on Thursday (8 January) to coincide with the release of Tesco’s trading update.

Thornton, whose Budgens store is nearby, claimed the fact that an application for an alcohol licence was submitted on the Saturday before Christmas - so half the four-week appeal time would be lost - undermined Tesco CEO Dave Lewis’ promise to be “open, transparent, fair and honest.”

Residents claim the arrival of another Tesco Express threatens the viability of the area’s three independent retailers.

They claim Tesco “has a much more limited view of its community role than do independent shops” and that the site chosen is unsuitable for a food store because there is no loading bay. The local post office also operates out of Thornton’s Budgens. “Were the viability of Thornton’s Budgens to be threatened, our local Post Office would also be threatened,” the campaign website states.

Thornton said more than 1,000 people had signed a petition against the store.

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We consider new store locations where we think we can bring something new and different customers will appreciate. We’re proud of the contribution we make to every community we serve, creating jobs, supporting local charities and groups, and providing affordable, high quality fresh food to local people.

“We are in the process of sending letters to the local community inviting their views on the proposed new store and will work closely with them as our plans progress.”