SHOPPERS flocked to a newly opened Tesco supermarket in Gerrards Cross today after years of controversy surrounding the store.
The store was opened at 8am to a queue of shoppers and by 10am the car park was almost full.
The supermarket giant announced plans to build the store in 1996 but struggled to get planning permission when it was rejected by South Bucks District Council amid widespread opposition. The decision was overturned by an independent planning inspector after a public inquiry.
Work began on the site in 2003 but in 2005 building work caused the railway tunnel over Packhorse Road to collapse, narrowly missing a train travelling to London. In 2007 Tesco decided to rebuild the store. Michael Kissman, corporate affairs manager, said: “It has been a long time coming but today is about actually opening the store. I think people are really interested about what the store is about.”
He added: “We have talked about the history of the site. We have been talking to the community a lot and to the parish council. The history has been done and today is about serving customers and see what their feedback is.”
A cheque of £2,000 was given to Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Shopper Ken Walker said: “I am very pleased to see this. There have been so many people against the project.
“This is very innovative. Tesco have created their own land over the railway. They haven't taken any land from anyone.”
Two shoppers, who did not wish to be named, said: “We are here because we are curious. We have mixed feelings about it. The traffic has been awful whilst it was being constructed. We will see how it is after.”
Tony Swainston, from Chalfont St Peter, said: “They have had their problems. We have got to put up with it- it is an engineering project. It has never been done before- building over a railway. We have got to expect problems. I am pleased that they have completed it.”
Store manager Lizzie field said: “I think people in the area have been very accepting for the time it has taken. I am very grateful for that.”
She added that the car park is going to do “great things” for the High Street. There is three hours parking at the store which she said will give people the chance to shop at the supermarket and then shop in the high Street.