Tesco plans to break into house-building sector

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The Independent Online

Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, plans to break into the home building business by redeveloping urban sites.

The grocer says building homes helps to make new store developments commercially viable, particularly in poorer areas of the country. It plans to build a store and 960 homes in Woolwich, south-east London, as part of a £400m project.

Tesco is also preparing to build 600 homes in Tolworth, Kingston upon Thames. Both projects are subject to approval by local authorities.

But the supermarket giant could find itself under fire on two fronts tomorrow, if initial findings from the Competition Commission suggest the watchdog plans to hamper its plans.

The release of the watchdog's emerging thinking report will coincide with a Westminster showdown over the retailer's controversial project to build a superstore over a railway line in Buckinghamshire.

Dominic Grieve, the local Conservative MP, will attack Tesco for keeping local residents in the dark over its plans to proceed with a superstore in the heart of Gerrards Cross, a market town on the Chiltern Railway line.

In a half-hour adjournment debate in the House of Commons, Mr Grieve will call on the Government to put pressure on Tesco to lift the shroud of secrecy hanging over the project.

"...my constituents ... are concerned at the long delay and want to know whether the scheme will ever be completed," Mr Grieve said.

Tesco said it regrets the delay over Gerrards Cross, but feels the safety of the scheme has to be paramount. It said it has kept residents informed and will continue to do so.