A SUPERMARKET giant is finally gearing up to open its doors in Bourne End – more than two and a half years after winning planning permission in controversial circumstances.
Tesco won permission to open a store at the site of the old police station on The Parade in July 2011 despite 300 objections from residents and traders.
Concerns centred over the loss of business for smaller, independent traders if the retail might of Tesco was allowed to muscle in on the village.
Many villagers also felt being a former public building, the old police station should have been retained for community use.
But two and a half years on work is well underway, and after a successful recruitment drive, Tesco managers have hired 15 people from the area to work in the new store, which opens next month.
Store manager Ahmed Ziyad said: “I was thrilled by the response we received to our recruitment drive. There were so many great applicants which made the decision very tough when it came to selecting the successful 15.
“My new team and I are looking forward to offering shoppers a clean, bright and spacious new store with fast and friendly service. We want to make this very much a local store for local people.”
Permission for the new store was granted on appeal after WDC’s initially rejected the application.
But WDC did not speak against the plans at the public hearing, saying it would be too costly in a case it was unlikely to win.
This left villagers and traders to do the talking, but they were unsuccessful in their opposition.
Campaigner Jim Penfold said: “The planning application and the appeal were dealt with by WDC in an undemocratic and disgraceful fashion.
“The village further felt that with our independent traders and the convenience stores we already had, we certainly did not need a Tesco Express.
"I, for one, could have thought of many better uses for that site and have no intention of using the Tesco store.
"Furthermore I have always advocated that local people should not change their shopping habits and should support local independent traders.”
Since Tesco gained planning permission in 2011, new plans for a Sainsbury’s Local just metres away at Parade Court have been submitted to Wycombe District Council.
And an M&S Simply Food outlet has opened as part of an overhaul of the petrol station at the opposite end of the Parade.
These add to the already crowded grocery scene in Bourne End, which already had two Co-Op stores operating within a hundred metres of one another.
The new Tesco will open seven days a week from 6am until 11pm, and will feature a cash machine and self-service tills.
It will also provide limited customer parking and Tesco’s Click and Collect service, where customers can order online and pick up in store.