A WAITROSE store could open in Gerrards Cross - a few months earlier than the town's ill-fated new Tesco.

Property group Frontier Estates has announced plans for a new apartments and food store development at a site in Station Road currently occupied by a car dealership.

The proposals could see a 13,500 sq ft Waitrose store - approximately half the size of the Beaconsfield branch - move in alongside 15 one-bedroom apartments and 20 two-bedroom apartments.

The developer says it will submit a formal planning application this summer which, if successful, would see the store likely to open for business in mid 2010.

Tesco bosses announced this month that the expected completion date of its ill-fated store under construction in Packhorse Road had been pushed back to October 2010.

A steel skeleton of that store is currently being demolished to allow developers to rebuild the railway tunnel which collapsed in 2005.

Nigel Keen, Waitrose director of development, said: "We believe a Waitrose food shop would add to the vibrancy of the village and provide the local community with a wider choice of high quality fresh food and groceries.

"Following extensive research, we are confident that our business philosophy and product range would be a good 'match' for Gerrards Cross and enhance local trading for the benefit of other retailers."

A public exhibition of Frontier Estates' plans will be held at the Bull Hotel in Oxford Road on May 9 and 10.

Tony Williamson, director of Frontier Estates, said: "Gerrards Cross is already a very well-established, vibrant village and we are determined to submit a scheme that best meets the needs of the community.

"The objective of the exhibition is to help us to actively seek out the comments and views of local residents, businesses and community leaders so that these can be fully considered before we finalise our application."