Supermarket giant Tesco is being accused of trying to bully planning chiefs after asking architects to come up with designs for a new store.
More than 130 drawings were sent to Tesco to use for a possible store on the edge of Nottingham city centre.
But city council leader Jon Collins said the firm is using "bully tactics" by trying to give the impression that permission will be granted.
The supermarket denied the claim - and said it was just "blue-sky" thinking.
It asked architects to submit plans for the site at Eastside and received 133 responses.
The number of architects aiming to design the site has been reduced to seven - and Tesco will choose a winner on 15 June. The public will be able to see the winning plans as part of a public consultation.
However, Tesco is yet to apply for planning permission for the store.
Mr Collins said: "I think they are trying to pre-empt the planning system … it is a tactic that Tesco use up and down the country. It is designed to put pressure on the planning process - bully the planning process really."
He said the huge superstore which could threaten traders in the city centre and in Sneinton.
But a Tesco spokesman denied it was using bully tactics and insisted planning regulations would be followed.
He said: "We fully accept that we might not get permission but we want to give it our best shot."
He added the project would create up to 500 jobs - but Mr Collins said it would also threaten existing employment in the area.
The city council said the land in question is not earmarked for a huge retail development and that it had been set aside largely for office space.