Supermarket giant Tesco will begin work on a new superstore in Rugeley “very soon”, bosses said today.
The company was given permission two years ago for a shop in Power Station Road but the site is still to be cleared while other projects in Stafford and Hednesford forge ahead.
However, the delay has been welcomed by some traders who fear a free 380-space car park at the site will pull cash-strapped shoppers away from the town centre after an increase in parking charges there.
Jonathan Simpson, corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said today: “We plan to get on the site and start work very soon. We have no exact date, but we certainly hope work will have begun in the early new year.
“We look forward to investing in the town and beginning trading in the near future.”
The 40,000sq ft store, on the former Celcon factory, will include a separate restaurant, petrol station and free parking for up to three hours.
Rugeley Traders Association campaigned against a 30p rise in rates imposed by Cannock Chase Council for parking between two and three hours across the district, which began in April.
Graham Howley, owner of Dyson Revivers in the Brewery Street shopping centre, said: “We’re worried people will stop parking in the town centre and go and park at Tesco for free instead, costing us the business we need.
“Times are tough as they are and we are concerned this is just another thing going against us. We need to keep shoppers in the town centre.”
Councillor George Adamson, leader of Cannock Council, said: “It was either a rise in parking charges across the district or a two per cent increase in council tax – we had to balance the books. I do understand traders’ concerns but I’m hopeful the supermarket will in fact bring more people into the town and help revitalise the town centre.”