A plan to build 204 homes and a food store on the site of a former car showroom has been given the green light.

Developer Montreaux has won permission to build two seven-storey blocks of flats at 231 Colney Hatch Lane, Friern Barnet.

The scheme will provide 73 affordable homes and around 40 jobs, with discount retailer Lidl expected to occupy the commercial space.

Barnet Council received 177 objections to the development, which was discussed at a meeting of the strategic planning committee on Wednesday. Many focused on its potential to worsen traffic congestion and air pollution while having a negative impact on neighbouring Coppetts Wood.

Speaking at the meeting, Peter Storey warned Colney Hatch Lane was already “severely congested”. He said an air quality survey carried out in 2013 showed annual mean nitrogen dioxide levels were 25 per cent above the recommended safe levels – and traffic had increased since then.

“These flats would be just metres from the kerbside,” Mr Storey added. “All have balconies and windows opening onto the street. This clearly creates an unacceptable risk of exposure to poor air quality.”

Another opponent, Dr Oliver Natelson, claimed there would be a risk of birds striking the windows of the flats, while the lighting would harm insects that are eaten by bats and birds. He also claimed that – contrary to planning officers’ statements – the flats would be clearly visible from Coppetts Wood.

MP for Chipping Barnet Theresa Villiers said the development would go against several Barnet and London-wide planning policies, criticising its density, the amount of family homes, the potential to worsen traffic congestion and other aspects of the proposals.

But Matthew Walton, development director at Montreaux, told councillors he was “very proud” of the scheme, describing the buildings as “beautifully designed” and claiming the landscaping and public realm would “significantly enhance the site”.

Mr Walton claimed an ecological assessment carried out by the developer showed the impact on Coppetts Wood would be minimal, assuring councillors the scheme would include “habitat-sensitive lighting”.

He added that a transport assessment verified by the council’s highways consultants confirmed there would be “minimal changes in traffic levels” as a result of the development, with the Lidl store encouraging people to walk or cycle rather than drive to a supermarket.

According to the committee report, the developer plans to include 460 cycle spaces – in excess of the standards set out in the London Plan.

Several councillors subsequently raised objections to the scheme. Cllr Tim Roberts (Labour, Underhill) said there were no other seven-storey buildings in the area. “That excessive height, and the risk of extra pollution, I think makes this an unsupportable application,” he added.

Cllr Claire Farrier (Labour, East Finchley) said the flats would be “completely out of keeping with the area”. She added: “At the moment, the car showroom and the works beyond it are set quite far back from the road, so these buildings are coming much more forward to the road – so are much more overbearing and obvious.”

At the end of the debate, Labour and Liberal Democrat committee members voted against, along with Conservative councillor for West Hendon Cllr Helene Richman. The remaining Conservative members voted to approve the development. With the vote tied, committee chairman Cllr Shimon Ryde (Conservative, Childs Hill) used his casting vote to approve the scheme.

As an application of strategic importance to London, it will now be referred to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who is able to overturn the committee’s decision or allow the development to go ahead.