Waitrose paid £4.5 million to purchase land in Malmesbury, more than 22 times the amount offered in planning gain contributions.

Caroline Moore, a member of the Malmesbury Greenfield Campaign, who has an apartment near the development, was investigating how much the land was purchased for and said she was stunned to find out that it sold for £4.5m.

“My first thoughts were ‘gosh’,” said Ms Moore.

“I was told a few years ago by an estate agent that the field would be worth £50,000 as agricultural land.

“I thought it would be £1m or something like that, not £4.5m. The VAT man (VAT of £900,000) gets a lot more than we do in the Section 106 (planning gain).

“I was told there was no way we could be helped with getting double glazing and now I have seen that it makes you think ‘hmmm...’.”

Ms Moore had checked the Land Registry site in January put the land still said it belonged to the former owners, two brothers Roger and Stephen Talbot Edmonds.

As part of the conditions for planning permission to build a store on Avon Meadows, the supermarket giant confirmed it will give £182,850 as part of its Section 106 legal agreement.

While £30,000 will be dedicated to public transport, much of money will be go towards the creation of a town team, made up of councillors, retailers and interested parties, who will use £127,000 to boost the town for decades.

Work on the new store, on land to the back of Avon Mills, began earlier this year with enabling works, tree clearance and then construction, which began on January 27.

The Gazette contacted the agent Simons, who could not comment, and Waitrose was not available for comment before deadline.