GREEN belt land at the heart of a proposed controversial housing development between Sebastopol and Cwmbran is back in Torfaen's Local Development Plan (LDP).

At an extraordinary meeting of Torfaen council tonight in front of a packed gallery, councillors voted 22-17 to put green belt land back in Torfaen's Local Development Plan (LDP).

Environmental campaigners have been battling for 16 years to protect the green space near Cwmbran Drive.

Council leader Bob Wellington said there would be serious implications for everyone if the council did not have an LDP and this was about the big picture for the whole borough, not just south Sebastopol, and Torfaen should not be held to ransom by the area.

Torfaen Friends of the Earth collected 584 signatures against the land being used for housing and presented their petition at yesterday's three-hour meeting.

The land had been subject to intense scrutiny over the past year after the local authority highlighted it as an area which could potentially be developed on in its initial LDP, which covers the period up until 2021.

A consortium of developers, including Asbri Planning, Barratt Homes and the Welsh Development Agency initially proposed to build 1,200 homes on the land.

Locals campaigned vociferously against this, with the local authority rejecting the application last July.

In February, the council decided to delete the south Sebastopol area from the LDP and to reduce the number of houses planned for Torfaen over the next nine years by 690.

But, an Assembly planning inspector said the local authority did not have enough evidence to do that. The site has now been re-instated to the LDP and could be used for future housing developments.

A planning inquiry is set to be held in January to hear the appeal from the consortium of developers.