The Government has confirmed the widely anticipated public inquiry will be held into the £700m Tithebarn development of Preston city centre by joint venture partners Lend Lease and Grosvenor.
The developers said in a statement: "We are obviously very disappointed that the Government has decided it is necessary to 'call in' the Preston Tithebarn regeneration scheme, which proposes to create a modern and vibrant city centre for the entire region, and attract jobs and investment to Lancashire. The Preston Tithebarn Partnership is discussing next steps in response to this decision with Preston City Council."
The developers hope to build a £700m 1.6m sq ft scheme anchored by John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Cineworld. There would be a new bus station, a refurbished market, 550 homes, and 2,700 car parking spaces.
Preston City Council granted outline planning consent in July. However, rival Lancashire local authorities Blackpool and Blackburn have long contested the scheme on the grounds it is disproportionately large for the central Lancashire economy and will draw retail spend from their town centres to Preston.
In a joint statement, Preston Council's group leaders Ken Hudson, leader of the council (Conservative), John Collins (Labour) and Danny Gallagher (Liberal Democrat), said: "It's disappointing as we still believe a public inquiry into Tithebarn is unnecessary. There are very clear and strong planning reasons why Tithebarn should be allowed to go ahead in Preston and we will now make that case at public inquiry."