THE controversial Tesco supermarket in Gerrards Cross is finally set to open this month – 14 years after the food giant announced its plans for the store.

Bosses have announced that more than 1,500 people have applied for the 200 new posts at the store.

The store worked alongside High Wycombe Job Centre in the recruitment process and said it has offered positions to a number of long-term unemployed people.

Store Manager Lizzie Field said: “We are really pleased to support our local community at a time when so many people are looking for jobs, and there is so much competition between applicants.

“The quality of applicants was fantastic and my new team and I are already enjoying working together.”

Sixty per cent of the new roles are part-time, with 20 per cent full-time and 20 per cent on flexible contracts.

Bosses will hope the opening on November 29 will mark the end of a rocky history for the store.

Tesco initially announced plans for the store in 1996 but a planning application was rejected by South Bucks District Council amid widespread opposition.

But the decision was overturned by then deputy prime minister John Prescott, following the recommendation of an independent planning inspector after a public enquiry.

Work on the site began in 2003, but in 2005 the project hit national headlines when the building work caused the railway tunnel over Packhorse Road to collapse, narrowly missing a train travelling to London (see link below).

Campaigners hoped the disaster would lead to the project being scrapped, but in 2007 Tesco decided to rebuild the store. Different contractors were used to lay the foundations over the railway line.

In recent months some have complained about dust coming from the site, as well as traffic delays while roadworks were carried out.

Graham Hoenes, 68, of Bullstrode Way, has been against the project from the start, saying the store is too big for the village.

The retired programme manager said: "It's been very very frustrating. I won't be using the store and a lot of people in Gerrards Cross feel the same way.

"I think the traffic situation is going to be horrendous."

Meanwhile, Gerrards Cross Parish Council believes Packhorse Road has been damaged by the work and is attempting to persuade Tesco to donate funds towards repairs.