Councillors have backed plans for a £2million road which will pave the way for tens of millions of pounds of investment in a north town.
The half-mile Dingwall link route has been hailed as the catalyst for bringing “new prosperity” to the Ross-shire capital.
It could lead to 600 new homes being built and £40million being invested in the town.
But last night, objectors said they were still worried about the threat of flooding to nearby houses
The Kinnairdie Link Road scheme was unanimously approved by members of the local authority’s north planning committee.
It will connect the busy A834 Strathpeffer Road and the A862 relief road at Dingwall Academy.
Committee members also gave permission for work to start on upgrading the bottleneck County Buildings junction in the centre of the town.
Committee chairwoman, Councillor Isobel McCallum, said the link road could lead to about £40million of housing investment on new land it would open up, and bring “new prosperity to this Ross-shire town”.
Houses in nearby Burns Crescent have been regularly flooded by overspill from the River Peffery in recent years, and residents fear increased surface run-off from the new road, which will be built almost 10ft above Burns Crescent street level, could increase the problem.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said it would object to the road if measures to tackle flooding were not included, and as a result Highland Council will build a new flood bund to trap water, and also strengthen an existing flood protection scheme as the road progresses.
Burns Crescent resident Peter McDonald objected to the link road plans after “countless” flooding incidents at his home in the 46 years he has lived there.
He said: “It’s out of our hands really. We knew the road would be built whether we wanted it or not.
“At least if the flooding continues after it’s built then we know exactly who is accountable.”
Dingwall and Seaforth councillor Margaret Paterson supported the link road plan and said it was important for the “further development” of the town.
But she added: “The people who live in Burns Crescent live in fear every time it rains that they are about to be flooded.
“We need to make sure that we take the chance to do what we can to help.”
Plans for the road were first lodged in 2011 but have been held back while the council tried to alleviate Sepa concern about flooding and fears raised by Network Rail over the impact on two level crossings in the town centre.
Both organisations withdrew objections after planning conditions were agreed with the council.
The route of the link road will take it from the A862 close to Dingwall Academy and through what is currently an area of overgrown trees and grassland, crossing the River Peffery twice.
It will pass directly over the existing flood bund near Dingwall Industrial Estate before joining the Strathpeffer road.
The County Buildings junction will be widened during the second phase of the project to create an extra lane, which will allow traffic to filter to the Tesco store and the academy.
Councillor Angela Maclean, who also represents Dingwall and Seaforth, compared the project with Inverness’s controversial West Link route, and said: “It might not get the same publicity, but this is just as important to Dingwall in order to deal with the traffic issues as well as housing issues.”