U2 guitarist The Edge's has won approval for his plan to build five hilltop homes in the coastal California city of Malibu, despite opposition from environmentalists who say it will endanger crucial wildlife corridors.

The Edge, whose real name is David Evans, bought the property in 2005 and since then he has pursued approval from the California Coastal Commission to be able to eventually build on the site and live there.

The unanimous vote by the Coastal Commission at a meeting in Monterey, on California's central coast, to approve the 5.2 acre (2.1 hectare) project in the celebrity enclave of Malibu just outside Los Angeles marked a reversal from its 2011 decision to reject the project.

A statement from The Edge's project team said the latest design takes up 43% less space than the one rejected in 2011 and would be built on a lower plateau, instead of high on the ridgeline. Each home will have a footprint of less than 929 square metres (10,000 square ft), it said.

Staff members on the commission had suggested the proposed configuration for the project that was approved yesterday, according to a spokeswoman for the commission.

A report from staff members for the commission said the project is "designed to avoid or minimize significant disruption" of natural habitats.

But despite those changes, environmental groups and politicians opposed the development, saying it would infringe on wildlife.

The project must next go before officials in Malibu and Los Angeles County to obtain permits.