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Work to start on finding potential sites for housing and new businesses in Torfaen

A HUNT for potential sites for housing and new businesses across Torfaen is set to get under way in August after councillors approved restarting work on a planning blueprint.

The Local Development Plan will set out where new housing, and other developments such as factories and employment bases, should be located across Torfaen.

It will replace the council’s current planning policy that has been in place since 2013 and which covered the period until 2021 – but remains in use as the document which guides development in the borough.

The new plan will cover the period from 2026 through to 2037, and work can now begin on it after the council  agreed in April it should re-start the process.

A Welsh Government review of all road building, that took 20 months to report, was blamed for delaying the council’s work on the replacement local development plan as planners were unsure if the area identified as the Llanfrechfa ‘strategic action area’ for mixed use development near Cwmbran would be impacted by any block on new road buiding.

The government review did eventually give the go-ahead for improvements to the A4042 and changes to the B4246 at Llanfrechfa. But by this point the council had decided the delays meant it was unlikely the plan would be ready for adoption – when it can come into use as the planning policy – in January 2026 as originally intended – and therefore it should start again.

Restarting the plans would mean it could be able to get the plan ready for adoption by October 2026, just nine months later than it had originally intended.

Now that the Welsh Government has agreed to the revised timetable, the council’s first step is to open the call for candidate sites, which is expected to be announced in August.  That will see landowners asked to put forward sites they own which they believe are suitable for development.

Sites put forward before the work restarted included Pontypool College, the former Autopia Site in Llantarnam Road, Cwmbran and land of Giles Road in Blaenavon that were all suggested for new housing, as well as the former County Hall building in Cwmbran and Gwent Police’s former headquarters.

Potential employment sites included Llantarnam Business Park and the former Alfa Laval factory in Cwmbran and land at Kays and Kears industrial estate in Blaenavon, while Cwmbran and Pontypool police stations could have been used for housing and employment.

Sites put forward for consideration will then be considered in detail by the council’s planning team as the authority draws up its preferred strategy for development.

A public consultation on the plan, before it is put forward to the Welsh Government and an independent planning inspector, will open in January next year.

There will be a further public consultation on the preferred strategy in May or June next year and a further consultation, on the council’s final plans, should take place in February and March 2025. It will then consider the responses of the consultation before submitting the plan for approval in October 2025.

The independent inspector will then consider the plan from January to March 2026 and deliver a verdict to the council by September ready for the document to be approved for use that October.

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Work to start on finding potential sites for housing and new businesses in Torfaen

a housing estate
Photo: Cwmbran Life