Plans to redevelop intu Milton Keynes shopping centre have been given the green light by the Secretary of State - nearly two years after the scheme was first approved.
The conclusion of a lengthy and costly public inquiry has seen Milton Keynes Council forced to spend £150,000 defending its decision to permit the scheme - which would see the partial demolition of Oak Court and an expansion featuring a boutique cinema, new shops and more restaurants.
The council’s Development Control Committee granted permission for the development back in September 2015, but a few weeks later it was called in by the Secretary of State after objectors complained that the development went against the CMK Business Neighbourhood Plan by building on land designated as public open space.
But that argument has been rejected after a seven-day inquiry was held last year, and the decision that was made 22 months ago has been upheld by Sajid Javid.
It brings to an end a long-running battle in which MK Council insisted there were “no winners”.
A spokesman for the authority said: “The challenge has inevitability caused some tensions, however Central MK can finally move forward with more clarity.
“Defending the decision was about our ability to balance all the policies of MK Council to ensure we have a vibrant and continually developing city centre that meets the changing requirements of visitors and businesses.
“Defending the decision has cost £150,000 which is a lot of money, and it is unfortunate we had to do so, but we hope we can all start to move forward and work together on plans to revitalise our city centre.”
Martin Breeden, development director of intu, said: “We’re delighted that our proposals have been supported by the Secretary of State.
"This will allow us to move forward with our plans to provide an outstanding city centre public space for Milton Keynes.
"The scheme will bring new brands to Milton Keynes, attract more visitors from outside the city during the day and evening and create hundreds of jobs in the retail, hospitality and construction sectors.”
CMK Town Council, which originally objected to the scheme, has also been contacted for comment.