TESCO has built 13 new East Lancashire stores in just 10 years, it can be revealed.

The growth of the supermarket giant’s presence in the area has been confirmed by a Lancashire Telegraph survey.

It shows that, while Tesco had just three East Lancashire stores in 2001, it now has 16, with another two in the pipeline.

And the firm – Europe’s biggest retailer – has paid out £2.5million in section 106 fees, which councils can arrange to obtain funds for improvements to local areas as part of the planning permission process.

The payments include more than £1.5million for Accrington town centre after a superstore opened in 2010, £260,000 for the proposed Great Harwood store, and £750,000 for road improvements after Tesco Burnley opened in 2001.

Blackburn Chamber of Trade president Paul Hoyle said independent traders in East Lancashire were worried about the growth of supermarkets, particularly Tesco.

He added: “I don’t want to see supermarkets suppressed, but what are councils doing to ensure that towns retain uniq-ueness, and independent trade is not killed off?”

Nine smaller Tesco stores opened without fees paid to councils, and the Nelson store closed in 2008 following disappointing trade.

Other supermarkets also made section 106 payments, including £30,000 for Asda in Burnley, £575,000 for Sainsbury’s in Burnley, and £390,500 for Sainsbury’s, in Colne, to be spent on the town’s Shackleton Hall.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “I think people are very concerned about the growth of supermarkets.

"They see the benefits of cheaper food, but are worried about the impact on smaller traders and farmers.”

Hyndburn Borough Council leader Peter Britcliffe said section 106 payments went towards improving essential infrastructure and supermarkets ‘co-existed’ with independent shops.

Tesco said: “We are proud of our investment in East Lancashire, where we have created hundreds of jobs.”

Our survey revealed 16 new ‘big four’ supermarkets opened in the past 10 years.

Five more are in the pipeline, including three Nettos becoming either Asda or Morrisons.