The go-ahead has been given for a £375m giant aquarium complex with a water park and hotel in Bedfordshire.
The centre aims to be a world leader in aquatic research
Planners approved the scheme by the National Institute for Research into Aquatic Habitats (Nirah) for the site at Stewartby.
Deputy leader of Bedfordshire County Council Richard Stay said it was a fantastic day for Bedfordshire.
He said: "The word 'iconic' is much abused in the English language but this will put Bedfordshire on the map."
Mr Stay added: "It will make Bedfordshire a destination, not somewhere you travel through.
"Bedfordshire is starting to become a real destination and Nirah will sit in the centre of that."
There had earlier been controversy over the funding of the development and animal activists had voiced concern over animal welfare.
Chairman elect of Nirah, Keith Edelman, said: "When the opportunities come and when people see what we've produced in Bedfordshire they will see a county that is put on the map, they will see a world-class facility which everyone can be proud of."