Published: 06:30, 25 April 2017
| Updated: 06:44, 25 April 2017
Bluewater has been given the go-ahead to expand its West Village area and make alterations to other parts of the shopping centre, set to create 2,300 jobs.
The shopping centre has also promised to make payments to town centres that could lose customers due to the expansions.
Dartford council’s development control board voted unanimously in favour of granting outline planning permission for the improvements, without even debating the issue.
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Applicants Blueco Ltd and Bluewater Outer Area Ltd will need to submit a full planning application before work can start but they intend to make changes to the area known as the town square, close to Pizza Express, and a nearby car park as well as move the coach park.
A two-storey extension could be added onto the West Village, which would extend into the area currently occupied by one of the lakes.
The lake would then be “re-configured”, according to documents submitted to the board.
A nursery near the lake will be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere within the shopping centre.
New buildings are planned for the opposite side of the lake, which will probably be used as food or drink stalls, and pedestrian footbridges would be built across the water.
The applicants also hope to build five separate extensions at various points around the shopping centre to house larger shops.
Gravesham council, Medway council and Bexley council all objected to the application for several reasons, including that it could have a detrimental impact on nearby town centres.
The applicant has agreed to enter into a section 106 agreement with Dartford council to provide a “town centre mitigation payment” in recognition of the potential impact the development could have on surrounding town centres.
It is likely Dartford would receive about £612,000 for “town centre enhancements” while Gravesham and Medway councils would get about £519,000 each for Gravesend and Chatham town centres, according to paperwork presented to members of the development control board before last week’s meeting.
Robert Goodman, General Manager at Bluewater, welcomed the committee's approval.
He said after the meeting: "The proposals to evolve Bluewater are important to ensure it continues to provide its guests with a comprehensive and compelling offer.
"They will also create up to 500 jobs during construction and 2,300 once complete.
"Following the committee’s decision, our focus is now on working in partnership with our stakeholders on the detail of the proposals over the coming months.”
Kent Police raised no objection to the application but said crime prevention and counter terrorism measures should be incorporated into the final design.
They recommend the applicants meet with them before proceeding with detailed design.
Letters were sent to 474 addresses, including businesses within Bluewater and homes in the surrounding areas, but no responses were received.