A CONTROVERSIAL multimillion-pound beach resort scheme at Carlyon Bay has moved forward after a 20-year development battle.
On Thursday Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee voted unanimously in its approval for the £250 million plans.
While jubilant developers Commercial Estates Group (CEG) hailed the 511 luxury apartment development as "world class", staunch opponents of the scheme said the county would be "ruined".
Kathryn Anne Bingley said: "This is the wrong location for a residential development.
"No amount of money or jobs which may or may not be created will compensate for the loss of this beautiful beach to the community."
Meanwhile Cornwall councillor John Wood said the £250 million of investment was an opportunity to put St Austell on the map and boost its regeneration.
He said the scheme could be the "jewel in Cornwall's crown".
CEG's ambitious plans also include a sea wall defence scheme – already approved by the Environment Agency – shops, health, sports and recreational facilities.
The plans will now go before the Secretary of State because of their departure from local planning policy.
Councillor Andrew Wallis said: "I'm very pleased things are moving on this project. It means there will be more jobs and training for the younger generation."
Original planning permission was given in 1990 by the former Restormel Borough Council to the then owners for about 500 homes, mostly on land at the old Cornwall Coliseum building, and a sea wall.
Plans were then unveiled in 2002 and years of wrangling followed including public inquiries, enforcement notices and threatened legal action.
Councillor David Hughes, Tywardreath, said residents in his division would like to see some restriction to the development on Polgaver beach but a compromise had to be reached.
He said: "We have had 21 years of chaos and something that's not been enjoyed. We have got to come to some resolution."
He said the application represented that resolution.
The scheme covers Crinnis beach, and the site of the old coliseum and stretches to neighbouring Shorthorn and Polgaver beaches. Some 500 construction and 400 permanent jobs are promised.
Jon Kenny, development director of CEG, said it was delighted with the outcome and was pleased to be moving ahead with the scheme after nine years of delays.
He said: "We initiated a two-year extensive public consultation programme when we listened to what local people really wanted and have come up with an exciting new plan that ticks all the boxes and will play an important role in the rejuvenation of the St Austell Bay area."
However, Peter Price, of opposition group Carlyon Bay Watch, said it was dismayed by the decision.
"It's the wrong decision by Cornwall Council," he said.
"It is looking at Cornish beaches as somewhere it can sell off to provide jobs and tourism and this is wholly wrong.
"While development brings jobs and tourism, development still has to be in an appropriate place, sustainable and comply with planning policy and this does not comply with all three."
Cornwall councillor John Oxenham, for St Austell Bay, has worked with CEG and others to get the best outcome for residents.
On Thursday he spoke of his approval for the application, saying his view was based on "the consensus of the majority that I represent and not just the outspoken minority".
He said: "I came out of the planning meeting with very mixed emotions. While I was pleased that the strategic planning committee decision was unanimous, I am very much aware that a number of residents are totally against any significant development on the beach.
"However, I am glad that this stalemate is now finally coming to an end, and we must look forward to this development being built."