Tesco has attempted to placate local opposition groups saying that it only opens stores where it is wanted by the majority of the community.

Chief executive Sir Terry Leahy and chairman David Reid told shareholders at the chain's agm last week that it was often the minority making the objections, whereas the "silent majority" were in favour.

One of those at the agm was a resident from Sheringham, Norfolk, which has found itself at the centre of a row over Tesco landbanks. She called for the supermarket to withdraw its plans for a store: "The community has not had its chance to have a say in whether we want a Tesco. We want a commitment from Tesco that it will pull out of a community where there is a clear message it doesn't want Tesco."

Another asked for Tesco to "reconsider spoiling" the vibrant shopping area in its "global domination game".

However, while Sir Terry acknowledged some opposition in the town, he said it had followed the correct procedures.

He said: "I respect your view, but I'm afraid the majority of people want the store. Tesco cannot just open up: if it's right for the area, permission is given.

"It makes no sense to build a store where it's not welcome - it costs millions and we have to trade after."

Sir Terry added: "There is always a range of views with a store development; that's why we have planning processes. If a planning authority doesn't wish to have a store, they don't have to."

His comments came as Norfolk District Council tightened up procedures to prevent any repeat of the Sherringham affair.

In 2003, Tesco entered into a property deal that included a clause preventing the council promoting development of a rival store in the town. News of the clause only emerged earlier this year after Budgens applied to build a store. The council has taken steps to improve communications.