The construction of Mulberry Place will involve demolishing historic buildings within Daventry town centre’s conservation area.
The plans were opposed by English Heritage, and Daventry District Council’s own conservation officer.
English Heritage said the loss of the town’s library building – formerly a school building – and nearby historic walls would cause substantial harm to the conservation area.
Cllr Andrew Harris replied: “Substantial harm is defined in the guidelines as something which ‘gets to the heart of why the asset, in this case the conservation area, was designated’.
“Members of this committee and residents will know the heart of the conservation area is the mix of frontages in High Street and Sheaf Street.
“I don’t believe that development of this sort would damage the heart of the asset.
“In fact a recent judicial review held that ‘substantial harm’ means that the character of the asset needs to be drained away. The library has been put forward for listing and it’s not gone through.”
Chris Surfleet, agent for Henry Boot, said: “The library is a not a ‘good quality’ building. It is, at best, a medium quality building, built to an economy and en masse.
“A building of this standard should not be an impediment to development.
“The benefits Mulberry Place will bring to the town far outweigh the impacts.
“Evolution and change are parts of a town’s natural life. You must allow Daventry to respond to its needs and evolve.”
Cllr Cecile Irving-Swift said: “I live in a village; I come from the other side of the district.
“Our town is Market Harborough where they are still living with the awful buildings from the 1960s which are a carbuncle on the face of the town. I know Mulberry Place is important for the town and the developers have spent a lot of money on it, but I’m disappointed that the design doesn’t say more.”
Cllr Wendy Randall said: “Many local people like the idea of more shops and a cinema.
“My concern is where the new development fits into the historic town.”
Cllr Deanna Eddon said: “We must also look at the positives for the conservation area. More people spending their money in Daventry will mean more money to maintain and improve the historic buildings.”