WORK will finally start today on a new Tesco store in Little Lever — more than 18 months after planning permission was granted.

Construction of the 2,778sqm supermarket will begin now the site has been cleared.

Plans for the store were first unveiled in May, 2011.

The proposals split the community with those for and against staging campaigns. Public meetings were also called. The plans were given the go ahead on August 27, 2012.

A Tesco spokesman said work on the development had been delayed because of the planning of land improvements and the resolution of land issues was not completed until late last year.

The spokesman said: “The site has beeng cleared for construction work to begin on Monday.

“As part of our commitment to being a good neighbour, there will be notices across the site with contact details for our contractors, should residents have any queries about what’s happening.”

“The staff from our Metro will be moved across. There is no timeline for this yet.”

The supermarket will be developed on the site of the former Pennine Pets Factory, at the corner of Lever Street and Crossley Street.

It will employ about 150 staff, 49 of which will come from the existing Tesco Metro in Market Street, meaning an extra 100 jobs will be created.

Cllr Anthony Connell said: “I’m glad that Tesco has moved on it because the site has been an eyesore for a while now.

“It’s good to have some investment in Little Lever, because it’s a while since we’ve had any.

“Hopefully this development will provide a lot more employment opportunities and provide the people of Little Lever a new and bigger place to shop.”

The new store will feature a timber frame and wind catchers — but rainwater harvesting will not be included in the final proposal. It 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.

Neighbours had mixed views about whether or not the supermarket would be good for Little Lever.

Owen Wood, aged 22, of Newmarket Road, said: “I think it’s going to look really good once it’s finished. It could bring a lot of business to Little Lever. But it’s surprised me how it’s taken — it’s been going on a long time.”

Kim Rogers, aged 29, of Boscow Road, added: “I’m undecided on whether this is good or bad news.

“I think the other retailers in the village will suffer, but at the same time it will bring a lot of jobs to the area.”

Steven Walker, aged 26, of Ruskin Road, said: “It will kill the village — there’s not much going on in Little Lever as it is, but when another supermarket comes along, it will spell the end for some businesses.”

Another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, added: “I think this is a positive move.

“The shops round here should be okay because they’re quite unique in what they offer people. Hopefully the jobs will go to local people.”