CAMPAIGNERS who have been battling for 16 years to protect the green space between Sebastopol and Cwmbran were left disappointed after Torfaen council reinstated it to its local development plan.

Torfaen Friends of the Earth collected 584 signatures against the land being used for housing and presented their petition at the meeting.

But councillors voted 22-17 to put the land back in the plan, after it was removed in February.

Councillors also agreed on a motion which was put forward by Cllr Richard Clark towards the end of the meeting.

After a short adjournment, which allowed him to figure out the wording of the motion, he said the chief officer for planning and public protection should arrange to meet Friends of the Earth and other interested parties prior to meeting the appellant in respect of the South Sebastopol planning appeal.

He said the chief planning officer should then report back the results to assist the council in clarifying its position in respect of the appeal.

Torfaen Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Carole Jacob said: “It’s a travesty of justice for us to lose this because of how it’s been handled over the years. This is not just a loss for the people of the immediate area but for the whole of Torfaen.

“I am waiting to hear from the council about the meeting, which we were only included in by the skin of our teeth.

“The planning appeal does not just involve the developers, it also includes us along with more than 1,500 signatures who opposed the original plans.

“The whole debate was about South Sebastopol, with nothing about Llantarnam or The British, or other sites.

“People have had their voice taken away from them and I feel as much for them as I do myself.”

Dr Amelia Pannett who asked a question at the meeting said: “The vote was a great disappointment to those who have campaigned tirelessly to prevent the inappropriate development of large areas of countryside around Torfaen.

“The narrow margin of the win does, however, highlight the divisions in the council over what many see as planning policy out of touch with the wishes of the people of the borough and which goes against the wider political appetite for the preservation and enhancement of our natural environment.”

Terry Jones, 66, of Five Locks Road in Cwmbran, said: “Some councillors seem to think progress is all about bricks and mortar.

“We lost a battle but there’s still a war to support.

That land is our little piece of heaven, why can’t they leave it alone?”

Torfaen council leader Cllr Bob Wellington said: “The decision to reinstate the South Sebastopol site has long term regeneration implications which clearly benefit the whole borough.

“1,200 new homes could be built, creating vital jobs, stimulating growth in the local economy and making a significant contribution to the housing needs of Torfaen.” How the councillors voted HOW the council voted to put South Sebastopol back in the local development plan, in a recorded vote.

FOR: Cllr Huw Bevan; Cllr Pamela Cameron; Cllr Glyn Caron; Cllr Richard Clark; Cllr Len Constance; Cllr Veronica Crick; Cllr Giles Davies; Cllr Alun Furzer; Cllr Kelvin Harnett; Cllr Alan Jones; Cllr Lewis Jones; Cllr John Marshall; Cllr Neil Mason; Cllr Raymond Mills; Cllr Mandy Owen; Cllr Jeff Rees; Cllr Phil Seabourne; Cllr Graham Smith; Cllr Barry Taylor; Cllr Wayne Tomlinson; Cllr Neil Waite; Cllr Bob Wellington.

AGAINST: Cllr Stuart Ashley; Cllr Mary Barnett; Cllr Cynthia Beynon; Cllr Ron Burnett; Cllr Fiona Cross; Cllr John Cunningham; Cllr David Daniels; Cllr Mike Harris; Cllr Elizabeth Haynes; Cllr Anthony Hunt; Cllr Mike Jeremiah; Cllr Robert Kemp; Cllr Brian Mawby; Cllr Norma Parrish; Cllr Jessica Powell; Cllr Colette Thomas; Cllr David Yeowell.