Actor Tom Conti leads the fight to see off Tesco in Belsize Park

Actor Tom Conti and Andrew Thornton, owner of Budgens in Belsize Park

Actor Tom Conti and Andrew Thornton, owner of Budgens in Belsize Park - Credit: Archant

Actor Tom Conti has backed a campaign to stop Tesco opening a new store in Belsize Park, amid growing concern over the impact it could have on neighbouring independent retailers.

Proposals to open the store on the site of the former HSBC branch on the corner of Belsize Grove and Haverstock Hill emerged over the Christmas period after the supermarket giant submitted a licensing application to serve alcohol at the site on December 22.

Mr Conti, who lives in neighbouring Hampstead, said: “It irritates me that huge companies suddenly decide to move into the area that is already well served.

“It is time to support individual traders in this country, so I am lending a face and support to the campaign.

“When I came here many years ago there were many small shops in the area and the people who owned them lived locally, but few are left. We have the best independent Budgens in London here, it’s even got a post office.”

He added: “This is disgraceful of Camden Council, their policy takes no account of the effect that this will have on other businesses.”

On Monday, he joined about 40 other residents in Haverstock Hill to discuss how best to fight the campaign to block the supermarket giant’s plans.

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The community campaign is being spearheaded by independent trader Andrew Thornton, who owns Thornton’s Budgens in Haverstock Hill.

The group has planned a protest at 7am tomorrow at the proposed site of the new Tesco’s.

A petition has also been launched so far gathering more than 1,000 signatures.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “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.

“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 local charities and groups, and providing affordable, high quality fresh food to local people.”

A spokesman for Camden Council said: “We can confirm that Tesco have applied to the council for an application to sell alcohol from this location.

The public have an opportunity to comment before a final decision is made.”