Two supermarket giants are vying for a place in New Barnet, sparking angry opposition from residents, councillors and MPs.

Asda and Tesco have bought large plots of land near the train station and begun consultations to develop the sites.

The two companies intend to build a supermarket, along with new homes, car parking and community facilities, although no plans have been finalised and Barnet Council says it will not support both.

Residents say they are happy with the Sainsbury's that is already in East Barnet Road, and worry that the extra traffic generated by the supermarkets would be unmanageable.

Eddie Eatwell, membership secretary of Chipping Barnet Liberal Democrats, said: "Having three supermarkets within 400m of each other would be crazy. Traffic has not been thought out at all and will be a big problem. It has turned into a sort of turf war between Asda and Tesco."

Tesco owns 40 per cent of the area enclosed by Victoria Road and East Barnet Road, which is thought to comprise mostly empty offices. It hopes to buy the remaining 60 per cent over the next few months.

Many believe the company bought the site to frustrate the development plans of rival Asda, which bought the old gasworks site between the railway and Victoria Recreation Ground about 18 months ago.

Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet, Theresa Villiers, said her constituents' reactions to both supermarkets were "universally negative" and pledged to oppose the proposals.

She said: "Traffic management would be very difficult with one supermarket, let alone two. It will be a big hurdle that I don't think they can overcome, especially on the junction of East Barnet Road and Victoria Road."

New Barnet councillor Robert Rams agreed. He said: "There are two main roads leading into East Barnet, Station Road and Longmoor Road, and these cannot be widened, so there's no way to cater for the increased traffic. It will change the character of the whole area."

Sue Young, of Edward Road New Barnet, has lived in the area for more than 55 years. She said: "Our main concern is that it is completely unnecessary. The one good thing the consultation did was to bring us all together in opposition to it.

Nearly 400 residents attended three community workshops held by Tesco earlier this month to gauge public reaction to its plans. James Wiggam, corporate affairs manager, said: "The comments we received were invaluable, so the emerging proposals offer as many benefits to the community as possible. When we have firmer plans, we will hold another consultation event to keep the community informed."

Asda is in talks with Barnet Council and hopes to begin a public consultation in a few weeks before putting in a planning application.

Both supermarkets say they are committed to their plans for the area, but the council said they could not accept both proposals.

A council spokesman said: "Should there be space available, it is highly unlikely that the town centre would be able to accommodate two additional supermarkets on traffic grounds alone. The local planning authority would therefore not support the development of two such facilities."