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Councillors vote for 3G pitch plans in Cwmbran to be submitted

a field by a school
Early plans had access to the 3G pitch on a road leading off from the entrance to the school

Councillors in Torfaen voted in favour of work to start to design and submit plans for a new £1million 3G pitch in Cwmbran.

The decision was made at Tuesday’s full council meeting. This is the meeting that all 40 councillors attend. 

They were asked to vote in favour of:

  • preparing and submitting a planning application, detailed designs and going out to tender.
  • giving permission for Rachel Jowitt, chief Officer, neighbourhoods, planning and public protection, to award a contract to carry out the project as long as it’s within the allocated budget.
  • giving permission for Ms Jowitt and Dermot McChrystal, the chief officer for education, to make a decision in the future on who will manage the 3G pitch when it’s complete.

The bulk of the cost of the project will be met by S106 contributions. These are pots of money and commitments made by developers to mitigate the loss of other facilities from their new developments.

Llantarnam has had a number of new estates built over the years and this has led to a total of £1,099,633  being available for new leisure facilities. 

a footpath by a field

Andrew Osborne, group leader, natural environment policy and streetscene operations, talked councillors through the proposal and said the “prelimary estimates” of the cost are expected to higher than the S106 money. He told councillors they were making an application for funding to the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).

His report said they had applied for £3,320,625 but this included funding for a ‘proposed 3G sports pitch in the North of the County’. 

He said they were also writing a funding application to Sport Wales to cover shortfalls if the SPF money is not successful. The S106 money has to be spent by 2028. 

Cllr Alan Slade, Llantarnam Ward, asked why “there has been a breathtaking lack of progress” on the project as the new homes were approved and built several years ago. He said: “This raises important questions about planning in the future. We are making promises to consultees and members of the planning committee and not really following them through. It’s like obtaining planning by deception.”

Ms Jowitt said she had been in “correspondence” with Cllr Slade and “reiterated” an apology. She added that the delays were over “capacity within the engineering team” before telling councillors: “We remain committed to delivering a scheme on this site to take it forward.”

Cllr Slade said that what was being proposed now doesn’t resemble the proposal that was described at the time of the planning application to build 226 homes on James Prosser Way.

Councillor Steven Evans, Upper Cwmbran Ward, pointed out that the report didn’t mention consultation with local residents and asked, “What do they want?”

Mr Osborne said they hadn’t got to the planning stage yet and that’s when the application would be subject to the normal consultation process.

Councillor Lucy Williams, Upper Cwmbran Ward, said some residents had concerns over the biodiversity of the site and wanted to know if the application would refer to the Well-being of Future Generations Act?

Mr Osborne said the council has to balance providing formal recreation and protecting biodiversity. He said the proposed 3G pitch doesn’t cover the entire field so they will what they can do “maximise biodiversity.”

a footpath by a field
A path has been built around one side of the site to make it easier for people to walk or cycle through to Llantarnam Industrial Estate

Cllr David Thomas, Llantarnam Ward, said this project could contribute to the problem of traffic by Llantarnam Primary School so wanted to know why the school wasn’t on the list of consultees? Mr Osborne said access to the site will be part of the design and the school would be consulted.

Cllr Thomas said that the school was interested in managing the site but the report “suggests” a decision has been made that Torfaen Leisure Trust will take it over. Mr Osborne said it was in early stages and they would “definitely be interested in talking to any party keen to manage the facility”.

 Cllr Slade then put forward a motion to have the paragraph in the recommendations giving the responsibility of the decision of the future management to be given to chief officers to be deleted. He said: “There is plenty of time to make that decision further down the line.”

Opposition to the plans

Cwmbran Life wrote a story in August about the delays to the project and included comments from Phil Davies, an Oakfield resident who stood for the Green Party in the Llantarnam Ward in May’s local government elections. He said: “The destruction of this site would show the council do not care about nature despite declaring a nature emergency in 2019. It also shows they don’t care about local peoples opinions as hundreds of people have already expressed that they do not want this vital site of biodiversity to be destroyed. We never got to vote on this. It is already used and enjoyed by hundreds of people from all ages.”

The vote

No councillors voted against the plans but a small number abstained, including the ward members for Llantarnam. After the meeting Cllr Slade told Cwmbran Life he abstained because of the decision to delegate the future management of the pitch to officers.

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Councillors vote for 3G pitch plans in Cwmbran to be submitted