Supporters of the Roman Quarter scheme for York have expressed their dismay at the decision by councillors to turn it down.
Among them is the celebrated writer of the Horrible History books, Terry Deary.
He told BBC Radio York: “It’s the most shameful and absurd decision any committee has ever made.
“They have put a knife into the city, they have deprived York of tourism, hospitality, employment, £20 million a year to the economy.
“I’m absolutely shocked at the decision, it’s disgraceful, but that’s democracy.”
Their project featured a Roman visitor attraction and 10 storey building of 211 apartments and office space.
It was turned down by a majority vote at a planning meeting on Wednesday.
The developers – a partnership between York Archaeological Trust, North Star and Rougier Street Developments – could now appeal the decision to the planning inspector and submit a fresh application to City of York Council.
A spokesperson for the developers said they are currently considering all options.
There has been a mixed reaction to the decision.
Shaun Collinge, who runs The Maltings near the site, said the verdict was a “bit of a shock,” adding: “The area I believe has been neglected in recent years and is in need of a regeneration programme.
“I hope that a compromise can be reached between the developers and the council with regards to the proposed development and North Star can breathe life into a tired and uninviting part of the city.”
Philip Bolson, former manager of The Grand Hotel and director at York BID was due to speak at the meeting but was told there were too many people registered.
He said: “Many cities would love to have the opportunity of a development and inward investment such as this and it is a shame for the city to potentially lose this fantastic project.
“I was going to say I firmly believed this development would be an exciting and positive addition to York with many obvious benefits including economic, cultural, and social.”
But some residents are relieved by the decision to reject the plans.
One tweeted: “Good decision by councillors […] So-called ‘Roman quarter’ just a smokescreen for massive overdevelopment.”
Another wrote: “It’s the size of the block that was the problem. I personally hope they resubmit something much smaller and still keep the Roman visitor attraction.”
On Facebook a reader said: “While the area would benefit from some redevelopment this proposal was never right.
“Completely eradicating one of the main night life areas is a terrible idea for York and as pointed out, the promised music venue was missing.
“Hopefully any future proposals include a better commitment to preserving culture and a better fit architecturally.”
The plans had also been opposed by the Council for British Archaeology, Historic England and the Ancient Monuments Society.
A spokesperson for developers North Star said: “We are naturally very disappointed and are now considering all our options.
“We remain committed to the site and would like to thank our many supporters, including local businesses, residents and a wide range of organisations in York and beyond, for their enthusiasm on these exciting and ambitious plans.”
Cllr Chris Cullwick, chair of the planning committee, said he hopes York will see a Roman attraction open in the future at this site or elsewhere.