A controversial multimillion pound redevelopment of the Caesars and Megabowl site in Streatham Hill has finally been given the green light.

A Lambeth Council planning committee approved the residential and retail scheme last night.

The nightclub and former bowling alley will now be demolished along with the shops between, and a building of between two and eight storeys built in its place, including 243 flats, 3,786 sq m of retail space, a 91 space underground car park, and a "flexible" community theatre space.

Its developers Glentoran say the bulldozers could be in after three months, and the whole scheme open by Christmas 2012.

The only trace of the original buildings will be the retained iconic Megabowl facade.

The scheme - the fifth set of plans to be drawn up by Glentoran for the site since 2007 - and the second to go before a planning committee - has been met by furious resistance from some local residents.

But most businesses in the area support the scheme, believing it could bring flagship high street stores and more shoppers to the area.

Campaign Groups Friends of Streatham Hill, Telford Park residents' association, and the Streatham Society, along with residents living in streets flanking the development, and Streatham Hill ward councillors all object.

While wanting the site to be redeveloped, they say the scheme is wrong for the area.

Their architectural and planning experts told the heated meeting the "half-baked" scheme was "over-bearing and overdominant" with residential homes in Ardwell Road and Blairderry Road dwarfed and "intruded on" by the project.

The local area would be unable to sustain the increase in residents, creating traffic and parking problems, the campaigners alleged.

Serious questions were also raised about how the low proportion of affordable housing attributed to the project, just 20 per cent, could be approved, and the community space was also deemed to be too small.

A report from the council's crime officer also raised concerns the development's design could encourage crime and antisocial behaviour.

Streatham Hill ward councillor Ashley Lumsden said it was "unacceptable" that 13,000 sq m of commercial space currently on the site was being reduced by more than three times in what was "the only space left in the area for a retail-led regeneration project."

Fellow ward councillor Jeremy Clyne said the council was "pandering to the profit margins of the developer" rather than ensuring a more retail-led scheme, with more social housing.

Campaigners had drawn up an alternative retail-led development of the site - including space for a large "top end" supermarket - but the plans were not looked at by the committee.

The regeneration scheme was approved by the planning commitee by three votes to two after more than three hours of discussion.

It was agreed as a condition of the planning permission that changes to the design to prevent crime and antiocial behaviour problems be made, and a guarantee 75 per cent retail would be provided in the commercial space given.

A scheme to guarantee local jobs are provided in construction and the final development was agreed, and an agreement made to consult with the Streatham Society and other community leaders to ensure the "flexible theatre space", that could also be used for sports and youth groups, was of suitable size and specification.

Independent assessors employed by the council told the meeting the amount of affordable housing and the density of the development was acceptable.

Glentoran representatives said concerns over traffic and parking were unwarranted, and if a controlled parking zone was put into the area, no spaces would be given to residents of the development.

They said public transport was good enough in the area to cope with increased demand and ease "parking stress."

Lee Alley, of the Streatham Business board, said the scheme had the support the hundreds of businesses in the area he represented.

Councillor John Kazantsis, cabinet member for enterprise and employment said the scheme was vital to regenerate the area, and would see the current commercial use of the site increase by 18 times.

He denied the Labour group - whose three councillors approved the project - had looked to "steamroll" the project through two weeks before the local elections in a bid to improve its administration's regeneration record in Streatham.

Lib Dem leader coun Lumsden said too many "conditions" of changes to the project had been "thrashed out" at the meeting rather than have them properly scrutinised and ironed out by officers forapproval at a later meeting.

Glentoran development director Greg Miller-Cheevers said he was "delighted" the project had gone through and developers were now anxious to push on with the scheme at the end of summer.

He said he was confident the scheme could deliver the step-change in the retail offer which Streatham Hill so badly needs.

He added: “For more than 20 years, this part of Streatham has been starved of investment, where as nearby centres such as Clapham, Balham and Brixton have thrived."

He dismissed assertions made by opponents to the scheme he would sell the development off now planning permission had been given.