Woolworths Limited has welcomed Victorian Minister for Planning Justin Madden’s approval for ten home improvement stores in the state.

The stores will be part of the first cluster of ‘Project Oxygen’ home improvement stores – a joint venture between Woolworths Limited and US retailer Lowe’s.

“The Victorian Department of Planning has undertaken a very thorough and diligent evaluation process to assess each site on its merits,” Woolworths Limited CEO Michael Luscombe said in a statement.

“This decision reflects a strong commitment to growing jobs, infrastructure investment and consumer choice in Victoria.”

According to the giant retailer, these ten stores will create approximately 3100 direct and indirect jobs for Victorians and represent a significant infrastructure investment.

It is anticipated that construction will commence on the first stores within weeks, with the majority likely to welcome their first customers in the second half of 2011.

The approved store sites are: Coolaroo, Burnside, Preston, Hawthorn East, Oakleigh South, South Morang, Mornington, Wendouree, Knoxfield, and Carrum Downs.

Earlier in September, Woolworths was rejected by Minister Madden for a permit application in Geelong where it had planned to build one of its 150 hardware stores.