The widely anticipated public inquiry into the £700m Tithebarn retail scheme in Preston could start by May next year.
Developers Lend Lease and Preston City Council are still awaiting a decision on the listing of a bus station in Preston earmarked to be knocked down as part of the plans, which could affect scheme and the timing of any inquiry.
An attempt by The Twentieth Century Society to have the building listed, which was constructed in 1969 and designed by Keith Ingham, could wreck demolition plans.
The planning committee approved the Tithebarn application in July, but the scheme was called in by the Secretary of State, meaning a government inspector will decide on the proposals.
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 October, lead developer Grosvenor pulled out of the project saying it intends to concentrate on its larger portfolio of medium-sized, residential, mixed-used and retail projects instead of the few larger city centre regeneration schemes it has in its portfolio.
The proposed scheme includes 1.5m sq ft of shopping incorporating two department stores plus 100 shops. If built, there will be a range of bars and restaurants, a nine-screen cinema, new and refurbished markets, 500 homes and 2,700 car parking spaces.