Plans for more than 700 homes and community facilities near a north-east town have been approved.
Crichie Developments, led by Dandara, is looking to build 737 homes, a primary school and a retail development at Crichie on the outskirts of Inverurie.
Aberdeenshire Council has now officially approved planning permission in principle after a legal agreement was signed between the developer and local authority.
The proposals were previously given a delegated grant in January at the Garioch area committee.
It means planning officers were given the power by councillors to approve the application after a legal agreement was made.
However, a further detailed application will still need to be submitted, and it is understood Dandara will apply for full planning permission next year.
A legal agreement has been signed between the developer and local authority to secure conditions for the development including a new grade-separated junction.
It is understood around 184 of the homes could be affordable.
Included in the development is space for a primary school, housing and business developments, with cycle links into Port Elphinstone and Inverurie.
In a decision notice, Aberdeenshire Council’s head of planning and building standards Robert Gray said: “The proposed development accords with the development plan and there are no material considerations which indicate that permission should be refused.”
He added: “No more than 300 residential units, and no other buildings on the site, will be completed until a new grade-separated interchange (GSI), replacing both the existing Port Elphinstone and Thainstone roundabouts on the A96, and an underpass at the site of the current Port Elphinstone roundabout, to carry the B993 Kemnay Road, have been constructed and are available for public use.”
He added: “The GSI and underpass will be in full accordance with details of position and design that shall be submitted to, and approved in writing by, the planning authority, in consultation with Transport Scotland.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the construction of the GSI and underpass is not approved by this planning permission in principle, and shall require a separate express grant of full planning permission.”
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The development was launched in February 2013 with discussions ongoing with the council regarding developer contributions.
At a meeting in August 2014, elected members agreed a delegated grant for the plans, but it will be referred back to the community due to a change in circumstances, including the adoption of a new local development plan.
Only five objections were lodged with Aberdeenshire Council about the application when it was decided.
Councillor Judy Whtye said: “I am aware a planning notice for planning permission in principle for a proposed development at Crichie was issued today.
“There are a number of conditions attached to the notice, including phasing of development, obligations to improve the Port Elphinstone roundabout and delivery of a grade-separated junction.
“As such, applications to seek full approval for the various proposed phases will have to come to the Garioch area committee before any development can take place.”