Councillors have narrowly backed plans for 10 new houses near Banff.
Members of the Banff and Buchan area committee voted five to four in favour of the development at Blackhill of Culbirnie.
Planning officers had urged members to reject the plans on grounds that it did not comply with rural development regulations.
But councillors have shown support if specific conditions are met.
The developer, Re-Nutherapy, plans to sell off the proposed properties once they are built in a bid to raise money to construct a nearby hydrotherapy centre.
The application will now go to the infrastructure services committee for a final decision, but agent Douglas Shand said last night he was glad things were moving in the right direction.
Mr Shand, of Shand Building Design Limited, said: “It’s good to see the plans taking a step closer.
“It has been a long process but there’s now light at the end of the tunnel as the meeting went well.”
Re-Nutherapy unveiled the blueprints to the hydrotherapy centre earlier this year, which was approved earlier this year.
The facility includes a hydro pool, gym and an education centre at Hilton Park Farm near Banff.
The developers plan to fund the hydrotherapy project by selling the houses.