Work will officially start in just 48 hours on a long-awaited £60 million Tesco supermarket in Wolverhampton – more than 10 years after plans were first mooted.
Diggers will move on to the site of the former Royal Hospital in All Saints on Friday. The new supermarket will create 500 jobs.
It follows a long-running saga that has seen a public inquiry, endless planning wrangles and a legal battle with supermarket rivals Sainsbury’s.
The city’s supermarket wars began in 2000 when Sainsbury’s announced it planned to build a store in Raglan Street off Ring Road St Mark’s – with Tesco following suit and unveiling its own proposals for the former Royal Hospital a year later.
Sainsbury’s pulled out in 2004 and Tesco tried to move its store to Raglan Street, only for Sainsbury’s to revive its plans, resulting in legal arguments that lasted for many years.
Now Tesco is beginning preparatory work on the 97,000 sq ft store at the hospital site, which comes as Sainsbury’s begins work on its own megastore in Raglan Street. Simon Petar, corporate affairs manager at Tesco, said: “We are very excited that building work is beginning.
“This is a big investment in the local community and will be a fantastic addition in the heart of the city.
“We will create hundreds of new jobs for local people.”
Wolverhampton Labour MP Pat McFadden will attend Friday’s long-awaited launch.
He said the new development was good news for the city.
“The supermarket wars in Wolverhampton delayed development on key sites for far too long but local residents will be relieved that work is finally starting on these important sites,” he said.
“The Tesco investment in the former Royal Hospital site is an important regeneration opportunity and it can create much-needed new jobs.
“I am glad that some initial work is beginning and I look forward to the investment starting in earnest next year.”
The supermarket wars even saw Tesco putting up signs on Raglan Street telling Sainsbury’s workers to ‘keep out’ as it still owned part of the land, while bus firm Banga Buses took Tesco to a Government-led public inquiry over its plans to close Sutherland Place to make way for the development.