Published: 07:01, 21 June 2016
Bluewater has revamped long-running plans to expand its shopping centre, which it says will create up to 2,300 jobs.
Land Securities, the co-owner of the mall between Gravesend and Dartford, has unveiled proposals to build 300,000 sq ft of retail space around the site, in a move it said reflects a change in consumer demand.
The plans, which will be submitted to councillors this summer, supercede a larger 328,000 sq ft scheme approved by Dartford council three years ago, which would have totally overhauled its West Village, home to Pizza Express and Zizzi.
Those plans were unsuccessfully contested by councillors in Gravesham, who feared its impact on its plans for new shops and homes in its Heritage Quarter.
The new proposals, which Bluewater hopes to begin work on next year, would add a smaller extension to the West Village.
It would also allow other retailers around the shopping centre to expand into unused space around the estate, similar to how H&M is expanding into the area behind its present store.
The extension to the West Village will be for larger stores in sectors like homeware, gardening, sports and leisure. It will also add some restaurants.
Bluewater’s general manager Robert Goodman said: “These plans are the exciting next step in Bluewater’s evolution.
“The plans reflect how consumer behaviour has changed, and anticipate how it is likely to do so over the next five to 10 years.
“They are also a response to the predicted significant growth in the local population, and the desire from some of best known brands in the UK and overseas to open statement stores at Bluewater.”
“The plans have also been devised with the community in mind, as evidenced by the commitment to deliver 2,300 new jobs...” - Gareth Johnson MP
He added: “The plans will bring many additional benefits to Dartford and the wider community.
“Not least of these is a major boost in employment, the provision of additional training to create a mobile and skilled local workforce, and the direct contributions to the local economy through increased business rates.”
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said: “I welcome these proposals, which are an important evolution of Bluewater.
“They address the needs of residents, visitors and the business community, and deal with an ever-growing array of competitors.
“The plans have also been devised with the community in mind, as evidenced by the commitment to deliver 2,300 new jobs.”