Friday, 25 March 2011


Torfaen Friends of the Earth is holding two public meetings for residents to have their say over plans for a controversial resident development in Sebastopol. Torfaen council initially gave approval for the scheme on land to the west of Cwmbran Drive, South Sebastopol, in 2005, but the developers did not complete a legal agreement within the specified time and so the scheme did not go ahead

A development consortium, led by Asbri Planning Ltd, is submitting 'refreshed' plans for the site, which were displayed at public exhibitions in November. Torfaen Friends of the Earth is holding two further public exhibitions next week for people to have their say on the plans. The plans involve 1,200 house on the site, including a village centre adjacent to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, play areas and a formal sports fields.

Original proposals to build the large housing estate on the last remaining green land between Pontypool and Cwmbran provoked significant outcry when they were originally unveiled in the mid 1990s. Pressure group “Fight the Plan” was formed in 1996 with the aim of stopping the development.

Campaigners who have raised serious concerns over environmental impact of the development, fought successfully to delay it for nine years, but the group lost a a judicial review in 2005. The public exhibitions will take place at West Pontnewydd Community Hall, off Maendy Way, Cwmbran on March 28, and St Oswald's Church, Wern Road, Sebastopol on March 29. Both run from 7pm until 9pm.

We need to take the long view and to create Welsh Green belt land with the legal and planning protections then, we might go some way to calming things down when it comes to development planning. This would also enable us to introduce a more long term element into the process by which our elected officials (and council officers) plan and view development and redevelopment within and around our urban and not so urban communities. This is something that could be accomplished by creating Welsh Green belt land, as part of the process we also need an urgent and open debate into the planning process in Wales - something that has been long overdue.

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