Councillors would have refused permission for Tesco to build a new £50m superstore in Bath, if the decision was theirs.
Developer SJI appealed to the government over the time the local authority took to deal with the proposals.
The retailer wants to redevelop a three hectare (30,000 sq m) site at the old Bath Press on Lower Bristol Road.
The final decision will be made by government after a planning inquiry.
Bath and North East Somerset councillors said they would have voted by 11 to one to reject the plans because of an increase in traffic, at a meeting on Wednesday night.
Another application for a Tesco store at the site is due to go before the council's planning committee in February.
PUBLICATION: BBC News Online, 19th January 2012