A SUPERMARKET’S £80million investment to regenerate a run-down area of Dartford has been given unanimous council backing.

Tesco’s development arm Spenhill will create 400 full-time jobs at a 24hour Tesco Extra store, as well as creating cafes, restaurants, a gym, big-name shops and 231 homes in Lowfield Street.

Tesco’s corporate affairs manager for Kent, Jonathan Simpson said: “This redevelopment marks a significant step forward for Dartford. It will stem the flow of the 90 per cent of residents that shop out of town.”

Tesco had been trying to develop the area since 2001 and permission was rejected twice, but on Thursday (November 10) the scaled-down plans were given approval by Dartford Council’s Development Control Board.

Councillor David Mote said: “It is not just about Tesco. It is about regenerating the town as a whole. I think this is the opportunity to do just that.”

Construction could take between 18 and 24 months, and the scheme was backed by Dartford Town Centre Forum, which represents the town’s businesses.

Forum chairman Bob Heasman said: “It will bring other investment to the town and reinvigorate and regenerate Dartford town centre.”

Concerns were raised by three people at the meeting, including Ray Richardson whose family has owned R Richardson Butchers in Lowfield Street for three generations.

Mr Richardson said: “The scheme to me is very much pile it high, build it cheap. It totally lacks in design quality and borough pride.

Retired quantity surveyor Patrick Ryan, of Stanham Road, said he was worried about the level of development and six storey blocks of flats overlooking a park.

Mr Ryan said: “It is a city density, not one for Dartford.”

He added: “There would be a lot of places in the park where you would not want to walk because you are being watched by someone on one of the balconies.”

Councillors were also disappointed by the height of the buildings, and the lack of affordable housing – which will make up just 13 per cent - but said there was a need to compromise.

Councillor Geoffrey Prout said: “You never get everything that you want completely and totally. I put this somewhere between 80 and 90 per cent and for that reason I will support it.”