Coordinates: 51°26′23″N 0°16′16″E / 51.439639°N 0.271239°E / 51.439639; 0.271239

Bluewater is an out of town shopping centre, located in Greenhithe, Kent, England. Opened on 16 March 1999, it is owned by four major UK institutions, Prudential plc and PRUPIM (35%), Lend Lease Europe Ltd (30%), the Lend Lease Retail Partnership (25%) and Hermes (10%).

Situated on a 240-acre (97 ha) plot in a former chalk quarry, the centre has a sales floor area of 154,000 m2 (1,600,000 ft2) over two levels, making it the third largest shopping centre in the UK after the Trafford Centre in Manchester. Elsewhere in Europe only Istanbul's Cevahir Mall and Vienna's (Vösendorf) Shopping City Süd are bigger. The floor plan is a triangular shape with 330 stores, including 3 anchors, 40 cafés and restaurants, and a 13-screen cinema. The centre employs 7,000 and serves over 27 million visitors a year. A main rival is the Lakeside Shopping Centre and retail park some nine miles (14 km) away in West Thurrock, Essex.


In 1994, quarry operator Blue Circle approached Australian mall developer Lend Lease to form a partnership. Instead, Lend Lease bought the land and the project from Blue Circle, and under the leadership of its CEO Peter Walichnowski gathered a group of major investors, which included: Prudential, Barclays Mercantile, Hermes (acting for Britel), Lloyds Leasing, and Royal Bank Leasing. Lend Lease also formed a pool of minor investors, called the Lend Lease Retail Partnership, with 18 institutions and corporations.

With the Bluewater project finally under way, it was time to sign up the tenants, beginning with the major ones. John Lewis was the first in February 1995, albeit with major concessions, such as the offer of 300,000 sq ft (28,000 m2), one-fifth of the entire floor space, on three levels. Still, this gave Bluewater the credibility it needed to sign more names, including the two other anchor stores. House of Fraser was next and in June 1996 Marks & Spencer signed too. By March 1998, 90% of the retail space was committed.

Construction, which was undertaken by Bovis Lend Lease, started on 1 May 1996. At its peak, the construction site employed 2,500 workers simultaneously. In all, 20,000 people worked 11.5 million hours on the construction of Bluewater. At the planned opening date, 16 March 1999, Bluewater was inaugurated with 99% of the shops open for business. The total cost of construction was around GBP £400 million. At the time of its construction, Bluewater was the largest shopping centre in Europe.

In May 2005, Bluewater introduced a code of conduct to ban swearing, clothing that obscures the face (including hoods and baseball caps), and groups of more than five without the intention to shop. This policy has divided opinion, with high-profile figures such as Tony Blair showing his support, but has been criticised in the liberal press and those working with children locally.

In late 2006, Dartford Borough Council granted planning permission for Bluewater to build a two-story events venue of 5200 m2, and further extend the south side of the centre. In early 2010, construction began on the venue.


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