PLANNERS have given the green light for the final piece of the £50-million Farnborough shopping centre "jigsaw".

They have approved the main phase of the redevelopment scheme which will transform north Queensmead.

Included in the outline blueprint is a huge Sainsbury's store, a large number of other big shops, plus offices and 96 flats.

A Rushmoor Council planning spokesman said: "This is the main part of the redevelopment scheme and will transform the area."

The flats are earmarked for part of the former Solartron site. Most will be occupied by Pavilion Housing Association tenants who at present live at Firgrove Court.

Firgrove Court is due to be demolished as part of the redevelopment.

The Government Office for the South East is now considering the outline plan which includes changes to the road network.

Final approval is expected by Christmas, which will then pave the way for developers KPI to submit a detailed scheme.

Rushmoor Council leader John Marsh said: "I look forward to seeing the detailed plans early next year."

Work on the first two phases of the redevelopment is well underway.

A tower crane, which currently dominates the town centre, is engaged on constructing a £1.6-million shopping area at The Mead.

This will include a 12,000 sq ft store for JJB Sports which is scheduled to open next summer.

Building work has also started on the old Post Office site where three shops, with 24 flats above, are being built.

But hopes that the new town centre will include a cinema appear to be fading, with KPI still drawing a blank in its search for an operator.