A £10million retail park in Fort William has won approval from councillors, despite being recommended for rejection from planning officials.
Developers Morbaine want to bring an Aldi supermarket and a Home Bargains to the site off North Road on the outskirts of the town.
Negotiations are ongoing with other retailers including Marks and Spencers to complete the line-up.
Members of Highland Council’s south planning committee voted unanimously to back the proposal after Lochaber members spoke out in favour of the plans.
More than 1,200 people signed a petition urging the councillors to approve in the week since planning officials rejection recommendation was made.
Councillor Bill Clark, Caol and Mallaig, said: “We should not be holding anything like this.
“We should let the market decide whether it is necessary.”
Developer Morbaine already had permission for a non-food retail park on a five-acre brownfield site on North Road, but wanted permission for food stores to be able to move after interest from Aldi.
Planning officials warned that the development would detrimentally affect the viability of the town centre – and pointed out that permission was already in place for a Tesco at Blar Mhor.
Councillor Andrew Baxter, Fort William and Ardnamurchan, argued that there was sign of development at the Blar Mhor site – and argued that the lack of choice in the town for shoppers was driving up prices and forcing shoppers out of Lochaber or online.
He added: “There is great desire among people in Fort William for the development . People want more choice, more competition and a new retail park for the town.”
He seconded a motion made by ward colleague Councillor Thomas MacLennan to approve the decision
Following the meeting, Morbaine director Alex Brodie said: “I would like to thank the local community in Fort William and the surrounding area who have been nothing but supportive and constructive over the years and we look forward to providing them with the additional retail options that they have been asking for.
“This will certainly include Aldi and Home Bargains and we are in discussions with other retailers, such as M&S, to complete the tenant line-up, a process made much easier thanks to this consent being granted.
“We will keep the community updated on our progress and let them know more about when the retail park might be open and how local businesses can participate in the construction process.”