Bluewater could become Britain's second biggest shopping centre after a major re-development was given the go-ahead.

Planning permission was granted this week to expand the centre by 20 per cent, with 30,000 sq/m of new retail space.

Topshop and H&M will both gain floor space, with a number of other stores within the centre set to be extended at the rear.

The West Village will be extended outdoors from Pizza Express to the nursery, and new buildings are planned for the opposite side of the lake.

Plans were unanimously approved at a Dartford Council planning committee meeting.

FROM 2013: Bluewater set to expand by a fifth and create thousands of jobs

The shopping centre has also pledged to make payments to town centres such as Dartford and Gravesend that could lose customers due to the expansions.

Gravesham, Medway and Bexley councils all objected to the expansion plans, but developers have agreed to make "town centre mitigation payments" to them.

Car parking facilities at the centre will be moved, but the number of spaces will remain at 13,000.

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The extension will give Bluewater more than 185,000 sq/m of retail space, making it only second biggest in the UK to the intu Metrocentre in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

The added retail space will make the centre bigger than rival Westfield Stratford City, although it too is planning to expand.

Bluewater opened on March 16, 1999 in a former chalk quarry after three years of building.

During 2012, the Wintergarden food court area was extensively refurbished, and a new Giraffe restaurant added.

Later that year, the Glow events centre opened, where events such as the BBC's Good Food Show have been held, but it closed after just three years.

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The Showcase cinema is now set to extend into the axed exhibition space, according to planning documents submitted to the council.

Planning permission was approved for a five storey 110 bedroom hotel in May 2012, but was not implemented and has now expired