A £12million tunnel linking Bluewater to Ebbsfleet Garden City backed by Ebbsfleet Development Corporation has been approved.

Kent County Council’s (KCC) planning committee approved plans drawn up by them  to connect more than 6,000 homes at Eastern Quarry, known as Whitecliffe, to Dartford’s landmark shopping centre.

The planned housing development is bordered by Bean Road and Bluewater on one side and Ebbsfleet International on the other. The 80m tunnel used by the Fastrack bus service is expected to be in operation from April 2022.

KCC’s planning bosses unanimously backed the multi-million pound plans. The applicant says it will relieve “unacceptable traffic congestion” and benefit thousands of future homeowners. It was also backed by Dartford council.

KCC planning officer, Paul Hopkins, said the tunnel  will only take 18 seconds for cyclists to travel through and 60 seconds for pedestrians.

Buses will use the site every five minutes, travelling at slow speeds of 20mph, while these will be electric vehicles to boost their climate change strategy, he added.

Dartford county councillor Penny Cole (Con), who represents the area, told the KCC committee that she “fully supports” the scheme as a means to promoting an “environmentally-friendly” option to travelling to Bluewater.

The proposal includes traffic lights prioritising buses; a shared cycle and pedestrian pathway to Bluewater Parkway.