THE opening of a controversial supermarket in Little Lever is a step closer after the developers handed over the keys to Tesco.

The supermarket has been given the keys by Zerum Consult Ltd on behalf of the developers Peveril Securities and Real Estate Development Partnerships Ltd JV.

Zerum Consult has been working on the 29,500 square ft store since May, along with the building firm Bowmer and Kirkland.

The store, which is at the corner of Lever Street and Crossley Street, will employ about 150 staff, 49 of whom will come from the Tesco Metro in Market Street.

Its construction has cost about £4 million and its sales area will be about 20,000 square feet.

It has been built using eco-friendly timber frames and the existing fencing from nearby properties has been replaced with new acoustic fencing.

The store has been met with a mixed response from residents — some have said it will bring more jobs and business to Little Lever, while others are concerned that it will increase the traffic congestion.

Andrew Duffy, the site manager of Zerum Consult, said: “It has been a success for all. We are pleased with the quality of the store and the speed with which it has been built.

“This store will bring employment to an area which has been deprived — it’s a significant regene-ration. People in the area have had concerns, but we have acted on them to the best of our ability.”

As part of the development, Zerum Consult has repaved the driveways of residents’ homes in Victory Road and Ainsworth Road.

They have also treated all gardens which are affected by Japanese knotweed.

Mark Thomas, regional corporate affairs manager North of Tesco, said: “It’s really important for us to be building a new store for the customers in the community.

“The developers have liaised with the store’s neighbours on a regular basis and the feedback, on the whole, has been positive.

“The store’s location will help to bring in a significant amount of footfall which would otherwise leave the area.

“It will keep people in the town, which is a great sign for other local businesses.”

The Little Lever Tesco will have parking, a service yard and landscaping, and there will be road alterations to accommodate the increase in traffic and ease congestion.

These include making Lever Street one-way, widening Ainsworth Road and adding a puffin crossing, replacing Church Street’s zebra crossing with another puffin crossing, relocating the bus stops in Ainsworth Road and Market Street, and adding traffic-calming measures to Ainsworth Road and Victory Road.

Little Lever Tesco is expected to open around the start of November.