A DATE has finally been set for the opening of a controversial Tesco Express store nearly a year after the supermarket giant bought the site.

The firm aims to open the new branch in Wanstead High Street on Wednesday, December 9 - twelve months after buying the property from Woolworths when the chain closed down in December last year.

The news comes as a big disappointment to opponents of the store, who helped delay its opening by launching an unsuccessful campaign to stop it being granted an alcohol licence.

Ashley Gunstock, of Cranbourne Avenue, Wanstead, - who helped lead the fight - said the store's opening is not the end of the story.

He said: "We plan to make life as difficult as possible for Tesco.

"This is obviously very bad news for the independent traders in the High Street. We're currently thinking about what to do to protest about the impact Tesco will have on them.

"We haven't finalised what the protest will entail yet but we will make sure shoppers know that they are hurting local businesses by shopping at the Express store."

Others have questioned how Tesco plans to supply the branch after it was refused permission to create a loading bay for delivery lorries in the High Street.

Ken Niall, 83, of Warwick Road, Wanstead, said the firm would have 'big problems' trying to unload lorries in Grosvenor Road instead - as it currently plans.

He said: "There's a five ton limit in Grosvenor Road, so they could have a major problem there.

"There's also no room in that stretch of road for a large lorry to park for any length of time.

"Tesco would also need the support of other shopkeepers to use the access road behind the High Street which I think they're going to struggle to get."

Nish Pau, manager of Londis, in the High Street, said: "We have trouble loading and unloading our shop without a loading bay so Tesco are going to have a real problem.

"My concern is that once they are open they might get a loading bay round the front in the end anyway. Tesco always seem to get there own way."

A Tesco spokeswoman said: ""We think this site is an excellent site for a Tesco Express store. It is situated within a well established shopping area and we think it will compliment existing traders by acting as an anchor and keeping people shopping in the area.

"Our experience has shown that Express stores can actually boost local trade as they attract more people to shop in the area which can benefit other shops and services.

"It is not our intention to be seen as a threat to other traders but equally it is not fair to oppose a retailer because they are successful in what they do.

"We open stores where we believe that they will be popular and useful to local people. Ultimately, it is the customers that decide whether a store is successful." We look forward to opening in Wanstead, investing in the area, creating new jobs, serving local people and becoming part of the community."