AN APPEAL by developers who had plans to build 1,200 homes on a greenfield site in Torfaen was heard today.

Chartered landscape architect and member of the Landscape Institute Gary Soltys gave evidence about the landscape and visual impact of the proposed development.

He first became involved with the appeal in June 2012 when Soltys Brewster Consulting were commissioned by developer Taylor Wimpey to undertake a refreshed and updated Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment of the South Sebastopol site.

Torfaen council rejected the outline planning application in July 2011, but are not contesting the appeal.

Mr Soltys said: "The proposed design for the development complies with the principles of sustainable development in accordance with Welsh Government policy."

He added: "The appeal site itself lies outside any landscape protection designations, however the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal Conservation Area cuts through the centre of the site."

Mr Soltys explained there are a number of listed structures within the site including Tir Brychiad farm buildings, the Hay Barn on the south side of Bevan’s Lane, the canal tunnel and a surviving seven mile post on the north side of the canal tunnel.

He said: "The canal and historic farmsteads are the appeal site’s most significant historic assets."

He added: "Existing woodland on site is of a scale and stature to provide a substantial landscape framework to future development.

"The appeal proposals will ensure that visual separation is maintained between the settlements of Sebastopol and Pontnewydd by virtue of the structural landscape features retained and proposed as integral parts of the development site."

He said: "The proposed development retains approximately 44 per cent of the site as green amenity space with development occupying approximately 56 per cent."

Torfaen Friends of the Earth (TFOE) are contesting the appeal along with the Campaign for Rural Wales and Pontypool Community Council.

The group’s evidence will be heard at the inquiry on Friday.

Inspector Clive Nield said he has received several letters from Torfaen residents opposing the plans and he will be considering all of these along with the evidence heard.