The fight to limit development on Windsor's old Imperial House site in Alma Road has been lost - with the granting of permission for massive apartment and office blocks that nearby residents believe will blight the whole area.

Councillors on the Royal Borough had turned down a plan by developers Salmon Harvest to put 217 apartments in a seven storey block covering 146 square metres on the northern part of the site, with a five storey office block covering 16,389 square metres on the southern side.

But the company appealed and following a public inquiry in March the appeals inspector has now overturned the council's decision.

It is a bitter blow for nearby residents who fought an earlier large office plan for the site through the courts - losing the legal fight but effectively killing the plan because of the delay caused.

Now an equally large development is set to happen on the site of the site once occupied by the Rank Hovis McDougall company at Imperial House.

The appeals inspector agreed that the latest plan would affect the character and appearance of surrounding roads because of its height. But felt that the benefits of getting new homes and office space outweighed this.

Cllr David Coppinger, lead member for planning at the Royal Borough, said: "The Royal Borough development management panel rejected this planning application based on our view that the proposed development would affect the character and appearance of the area.

"While we are disappointed by the outcome we respect the Inspector's decision and understand that the national housing shortage means that difficult choices sometimes need to be made to be made."

But nearby resident David Eglise, one of the leading campaigners against the development, felt that the council had put up a feeble case at the inquiry.

He said: "They really shot themselves in the foot. Now this monstrous building will be a blight on the town.

"It is a disappointing but not totally unexpected outcome."