Councillors have gone against their officials' advice to grant planning permission to a leisure development on the edge of Bangor.
An artist's impression of how the site would look
Cheshire-based Aurora Property is behind the plan which includes a cinema, bingo, restaurants and hotel.
Gwynedd county councillor Keith Greenly Jones said it would be good for the city and the people of the area.
But Bangor Traders Association said it was a missed opportunity to develop the city centre and keep people there.
The planning application at the Llandegai industrial estate is to demolish the former Wardle Storey factory building and for a partial change of use.
Gwynedd Council officers advised against granting planning consent because they said it was contrary to the council's area development plan and leisure facilities should be closer to town centres.
Peter Grant, chairman of the Bangor Traders Association, said a development closer to the centre would keep people within the city, and any associated parking places would help ease parking pressure.
"There is definitely a need for this kind of facility, but we need it in the centre of Bangor not outside Bangor," he said.
"The parking situation in the city centre is getting quite desperate and could be putting people off coming here, and a development in the centre, with its associated parking could have helped."
The site is near the entrance to the Llandygai Industrial Estate
Mr Greenly Jones said he voted in favour because he was "thinking of the people of Bangor - if you look at the area, people go to Llandudno Junction to visit a cinema."
He added: "This will provide employment and is better than just empty buildings."
A spokesman for Aurora Property said the development would attract people from "as far as Lleyn, all Anglesey and all of Gwynedd".
The company said no figure could yet be put on the cost, but it was in discussion with "specialist operators" to run a multiplex cinema, ten-pin bowling, fitness facility, bingo, restaurants "of a high quality" and a hotel.
A detailed plan will be draw up within the next six months.