Amended designs for the two-storey teaching block, in the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site, were rubber-stamped at a meeting of the Keighley and Shipley Area Planning Panel at Shipley Town Hall yesterday morning.
The college will now be allowed to demolish four large greenhouses on its Exhibition Road site, currently used by its horticultural department, and replace them with a 'High Needs Vocational Centre', designed to cater for 75 students with learning or physical disabilities.
The Council had received 129 objections to the development, with many voicing concerns that the new eco-friendly building, complete with a sedum plant roof to aid bio-diversity, would not conform to the architectural style of the surrounding listed buildings.
Vanessa Pilny, a member of the Saltaire Preservation Society, told the meeting: "I think it would set a dangerous precedent, if you can build this 20 feet away from the World Heritage buffer zone, then how can you stop other modern buildings going up?
"People who live in the village are told they can't have certain doors or double-glazing, but over the road there are completely different design rules.
"It worries me that something could be passed despite so many objections."
But the architect behind the building's design, Allan Booth, said: "The proposed building contributes positively to the outstanding universal value of Saltaire.
"It is designed to add an informed dimension to its setting without competing with neighbouring heritage buildings.
"Our intention has been to create a modern building which respects its surroundings and minimises the effect on residents."
The college had worked with the Council's design team to revise the original plans for the building, and it was noted that "a great deal of care and attention had been taken to lessen its impact at street level."
The changes had also led to the project receiving the backing of English Heritage, who had initially expressed concerns over the development.
Nav Chohan, principal of Shipley College, told the meeting that £1.1million was currently being investing in the separate 1887 Exhibition Building and that funding for the new scheme was only in place until March next year.
"This will be an important facility for our most disadvantaged citizens, and it is clear there is a need for it," he said.
"The new building will help to secure the future of the college in an atmosphere that will protect our continued investment in the village."
Chairing the meeting, Councillor Doreen Lee (Lab, Keighley East), said the building reflected a new look for the Saltaire Conservation Area.
"This is the 21st century, and we have to get with it," she added.
Speaking following the decision to grant planning approval, Mr Chohan said: "We are delighted that we will shortly have a building that can complement what is already here in Saltaire."