Muse was named preferred bidder for the scheme in October 2017. With the contract signed, detailed plans for a mixed-use development will now be worked up, with a six-screen cinema, bars, restaurants and family-friendly hospitality.
The scheme, designed by architect TP Bennett, envisages the creation of a new public square, a 109-bed hotel, a multi-storey car park and up to 140 new homes. Gross development value is £75m.
There are also discussions about building a health centre.
Muse Developments is looking to submit a planning application late 2018 and to start on site late 2019.
The site is jointly owned by Dartford Borough Council and Homes England.
Dartford Borough Council leader Jeremy Kite said: “Dartford is one of the fastest growing towns in England. The town’s strategic position on the edge of London and the heart of the southeast has been energised in the last decade by huge investment in national infrastructure, growth funding and massive capital commitments from private developers.
“We are attracting people with the financial means, ambition and aspiration to build new lives beyond urban London and with an already successfully established community, those of us who have longer roots in the town are enjoying the economic benefits too. A welcoming ‘coffee shop’ culture is changing the face of our High Street and summer festivals events, fairs and events are booming.”
He added: “Muse Developments has a track record of delivering projects that harness arts, hospitality and leisure as major regenerative forces. We are very excited to be working with creative, energetic and successful partners to deliver great things for the people of Dartford.”
John Robinson, development director at Muse, added: “Dartford is a forward-thinking council that wants to bring real change to the town centre. It has been a pleasure working with them and Homes England over the last six months and we are delighted to have reached this key milestone.
“The site is very well-connected, being close to both the high street and train station, making it the ideal location for a lively and vibrant new community and cultural quarter. We now look forward to working with the wider community in developing our plans and delivering this exciting project.”