A HUGE queue of shoppers lined up outside the new Waitrose store in Chandler's Ford this morning waiting for the doors of the 42,000 sq ft supermarket to be finally thrown open to the public.

Work on the controversial scheme - which prompted howls of protest from a large number of local residents - has been under way since the start of the year.

But at 8.30am the store was declared open as store manager Andy Compton welcomed shoppers at the head of the queue with champagne and flowers.

A Waitrose spokeswoman explained: "The celebrity of the day is the shop and the food we are selling."

But she added: "This is the largest queue we have had in our branch opening programme this year."

Heading the queue was David Tucker of Oakmount Road, Chandler's Ford, who told the Daily Echo: "I live just down the road. I have watched it being built for the last year and was interested to see what it was like.

"I'm open-minded about it. I think it has cleaned up the corner. Whether it brings more traffic remains to be seen, but I think it might be a good facility."

Also close to the front of the queue was Jan Hewitt who teaches business and economics at nearby Thornden School.

She said: "We have been doing a GCSE project on the cost and benefits of Waitrose at Chandler's Ford.We are now going to keep an eye on how the store progresses. It was vital for me to be here."

Tongue-in-cheek, she added: "We were hoping for a bit of razzmatazz, we were expecting David Beckham at least!"

Store manager Mr Compton commented: "It was really nice to see a queue outside this morning and I got a very positive feel from customers.

"I am delighted to be opening a top-design store for the public in Chandler's Ford."