London has most successful supermarket applications

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Some 88 successful applications for new supermarkets have been made by the so-called 'big four' in London in the past two years - the most in the UK.

BBC research found that the vast majority were from Tesco followed by Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons.

Tower Hamlets had the most successful applications between November 2008 and November 2010, with eight.

The research found there had been 577 stores approved in England within two years.

After London, the fastest growing region was the North West with 62 applications.

The wider BBC London TV region, which includes parts of Essex, Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, had 110 successful applications for new supermarkets.

One of the most contentious supermarket developments involves the relocation of Streatham Ice rink in south London.

The venue will move three miles to Pope's Road car park in Brixton, so construction can start on Tesco's multi-million-pound leisure complex and 250-home development.

The plans for the Streatham Hub complex include an Olympic-sized rink, a 25m, six-lane swimming pool and other state-of-the art sport facilities.

But some people believe Tesco has reneged on the deal - known as section 106 - with Lambeth Council to replace the ice rink before they knocked it down.

Kevin Rye, from the Save Skating in Streatham campaign, said: "To be honest you expect Tesco to act the way they do, but you expect your council to think about local people and treat them with some respect.

"The original section 106 agreement was scrapped for no decent reason - they should build the ice rink like they said they would.

"This not an anti-Tesco campaign - this is a, 'We want an ice rink in Streatham campaign'."

Image caption,
Local people are angry about the Streatham Ice Rink proposals

Councillor Sally Prentice, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and employment, said: "This scheme will bring huge benefits to the area - and represents a great deal for Lambeth and local people, because it will provide £120m local investment, 600 new jobs, 250 new homes - 89 of which are earmarked for social housing, and first class leisure facilities.

"None of this would be possible without the partnership with Tesco.

"We have made it a condition of the S106 agreement that they will not be allowed to open their store until the permanent leisure centre - including the new state-of-the-art ice rink - is completed."

A spokesman for Tesco said: "Most of our new store applications are not for large supermarkets but for small, local convenience stores, the likes of which millions of customers have relied on to get food in the bad weather.

"We always put customers first and we have invested in the UK even during the worst recession in living memory, creating tens of thousands of jobs, many in the most deprived areas of the country."

Describing the BBC figures as "incomplete and misleading", the spokesman added that they did not take into account shops that have closed.

BBC Panorama's Supermarkets: What price cheap food? will air on BBC One at 2100 GMT and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

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