Preston's ambitions to become the undisputed economic capital of Lancashire have taken a huge step forward with the Court of Administration throwing out Blackburn with Darwen Council's objection to the £700m Tithebarn retail scheme.
Sitting in Manchester's Civil Justice Centre, the Court of Administration upheld Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles' decision to allow the 1.5m sq ft Tithebarn development to be given planning permission.
Preston council leader Cllr Peter Rankin said after the decision: "Our focus now is working with developers Lend Lease and Lancashire County Council to take Tithebarn forward, in what is a difficult economic climate. There is still a lot of work ahead, including raising the necessary finance and assembling the land. But now we have the planning permission, we can move forward with renewed energy and positivity to meet the challenges ahead to deliver the Tithebarn development and the investment and new jobs it will bring."
Lend Lease plans a new bus station, revitalised Preston Markets, a new cinema, cafes, bars as well as new offices and homes. The scheme would be anchored by John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.
In May and June 2010 an independent public inquiry was held to decide whether or not the Preston Tithebarn Scheme should be allowed planning permission.
The inspector recommended refusal on the grounds of increased traffic congestion. Pickles overruled the recommendation in December and said consent should be granted.
Blackburn with Darwen Council decided to appeal this decision and lodged an appeal at the Court of Administration in Manchester. The court hearing took place on 27 and 28 June when the appeal from Blackburn Council was rejected, upholding Pickles' decision.
The decision changes the regeneration landscape in Lancashire, according to Mick Wellock, director of planning advisors Kirkwells in Burnley. Wellock said: "This is an out and out game changer for Lancashire, really establishing the economic pre-eminence of Preston."
No one from Lend Lease was available for comment.