WORK will start on turning a former pub in Marston into a Tesco Express store in February.

The company hopes to open the new shop in The Friar, Old Marston Road, next summer and says it will create 20 jobs for the area.

The property has been empty for more than six years and has previously been described by residents as an “eyesore”.

But the plan has proved controversial with local councillors, who fear it could impact on other shops and cause traffic problems in the area.

Mohammed Altaf-Khan, Oxford City Council member for Headington Hill and Northway, said: “I am not objecting to the 20 jobs.

“But my concern is the impact on the small shops nearby, and transport issues of cars parking there and trying to get in and out.

“I have been campaigning for a long time for a pedestrian crossing there.”

The Tesco store would sit on the same road as a Costcutter store, which includes a post office and a Co-op store.

City council representative for Marston, Mick Haines, said: “I think it is terrible, and I have got two real big worries.

“Number one is that there is a memorial bench and plaque on the side of the road where they want to put a small car park.

“My other concern is the impact on the post office in Costcutter. I went to Downing Street to save that post office in 2006 with 1,200-odd signatures.

“If they get rid of Costcutter I think the post office will go with it.”

“We have got enough food shops as it is without another one coming along.”

The £1,500 memorial bench was put on the green space in March 2013 to honour the 27 men from the parish who were killed during the Second World War.

The £500 plaque was put up in October 2012. Money for both the bench and the plaque came from Mr Haines’s city council community grant fund.

Tesco has had planning permission to convert the former pub into an Express store since 2011.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “We’re pleased to be bringing forward our plans for our Express store and hope to start on site in February with a view to opening in the summer. Our new store will provide 20 jobs for local people.

“We look forward to serving the local community when we open.”

She said that in the company’s experience Express stores brought more footfall to the area, which would benefit other stores and give more choice to residents.

The spokeswoman added: “We will be relocating the plaque as part of the work to our new store. If the local community has any ideas on where they would like to see it we would be happy to hear from them.”