LAKESIDE Shopping Centre has got the go-ahead for its £180million expansion.

The centre will be extended to add up to 40 shops, restaurants, and cafes after Thurrock Council’s planning committee gave the application the green light.

The project is expected to create 1,000 jobs during the three-year construction, and 2,600 permanent jobs within the shopping centre itself.

Lakeside’s general manager, Paul Lancaster, said: “The council’s unanimous decision is great news for shoppers and local people, paving the way for major investment in Thurrock, including thousands of jobs and a modern new bus station.

“Our shoppers drive everything we do at Lakeside, and they played a vital part in shaping these plans.

“We will continue to listen to shoppers and local people in the coming months as we develop a timetable to deliver this investment and develop proposals for a major new leisure space to complement this £180million expansion.”

The initial plans will see part of the existing Debenhams store demolished, along with the bus station, to make way for the extension.

There will be around 12 new units on the lower level and nine above it on a mezzanine floor.

To the east of Debenhams, another two-storey extension is planned, and there could also be another three storey extension to the north.

Shops would be accessed from a new external street and public square, with a mix of shops, financial services, hot-food takeways and restaurants.

Further one and two storey extensions and buildings across the site will add more shops, restaurants, a convenience store and a bus passenger waiting area.

A new bus station is likely to be built adjacent to the existing bridge link to Chafford Hundred railway station.