A NEW Next superstore with a late-night licence could be opening in the disused retail park behind Tesco in Watford.

According to reliable sources, Next, which posted strong Christmas and New Year sales despite concerns about impending recession, may take out "serious space" at the Waterfields Retail Park.

It plans to occupy about 40,000 square feet at the site off Lower High Street. The entire park is 75,000 square feet and it is not yet known who will take the remainder of the site.

Because the store will be close to the 24-hour supermarket, management are thought to be keen to take advantage of late-night shoppers.

If the plan does go ahead, it will fit with predictions made by Watford Council of a large expansion in the town's shopping by 2010.

The prospect has caused disquiet in some quarters because of the traffic implications.

A spokesman for the clothing company said she would not confirm if the plans were being looked at because of "commercial confidentiality".

She said: "At this early stage we don't have any information about whether or not we would be going in."

Next is currently in negotiation with Pillar Properties, the developers that built the park more than two years ago. That company also refused to comment on the negotiations.

Moves to open a new "edge of town" store fit Next's recent expansion strategy, indicating the plans are serious. But, until the ink is dry on a contract, sources say nothing is certain.