Plans for a new town between Inverness and Nairn have been approved by Highland councillors.
The decision, however, has been mired in a row about the planning process, as members were left unable to object to the scheme for fear of a costly appeal by the applicants.
Moray Estates wants to construct almost 5000 homes creating a new town with a population of around 10,000 people.
The company says the town will be self-sufficient, with its own shops, schools, churches and healthcare facilities.
On Tuesday members of Highland Council's south planning committee visited the site, set along the A96 corridor between Inverness and Nairn.
Local authority officials had recommended they approve the plans in principle but there were many questions about the size of the development and what infrastructure would be in place.
Solicitors advised that because the development was included in the area's local plan, to reject it would lead to appeal and cost the council money.
Nine members of the 19 on the committee registered their dissent but the plans were approved.
Councillor Roddy Balfour said: “Necessary infrastructure wasn’t planned and could not be easily implemented in conjunction with the first phase which is 350.
“Second was the use of prime agricultural land. Third was the fact the village of Croy will be subsumed, not physically, but socially and economically.”
But those behind the plans say they'll have to consult every step of the way.
Andrew Howard, of Moray Estates, said: “If you can think of the sense you have when go into many of Scotland’s traditional market towns, they are quite compact, they are very attractive to be in and they are very nice places to live, the services are within close proximity to where people live. That’s the sort of thing we talking about.”
If plans progress as developers hope construction of the first phase could begin within 18 months and it will take between 30 and 40 years before the final phase is complete.