COUNCILLORS went against the advice of planning officers to approve controversial plans for an Aldi in Pontypool in a shock decision.

A revised application for a store near the Skewfields roundabout had been recommended for refusal over concerns around flooding, the impact on the town centre and the suitability of the site.

The supermarket chain also had plans for the site refused in December last year.

But Torfaen council’s planning committee approved the plans following a heated debate at a meeting on Tuesday, with supporters saying it would bring jobs to the area and provide choice to shoppers.

Cllr Gaynor James urged councillors to approve the plans, arguing that not doing so would ‘deprive’ people of choice.

“There’s no trader in the town that would be affected by Aldi,” she said.

“You claim it would be out of town but it’s two minutes down the bypass.

“If we do not have Aldi the people of Pontypool are going to be deprived of choice of where to shop and we will be sending them back down the bypass.”

The meeting heard the Canal and River Trust were among those to have raised concerns about potential flooding.

Cllr Stuart Ashley warned the flood risk is increasing due to climate change increasing extreme weather events.

“Is this really the right place?” he questioned.

“I really do not think so. I think it should be in the town.

“It’s the worst possible place to put it on the roundabout.”

Cllr Jon Horlor also raised concerns over traffic issues, saying the roundabout has a “significant accident record.”

“I could not forgive myself if something happened and I voted for this,” he said.

But Cllr Gwyn Jenkins said after speaking to residents in his ward he favoured the application, dismissing concerns over flooding as ‘scaremongering.’ “

"A lot of people in my ward shop in Brynmawr or Abergavenny," he said.

“If people are going to go out of town to the supermarket, bring that supermarket to Pontypool.”

Cllr Jason O’Connell also backed the plans, arguing it would bring 40 new jobs to the area.

The application was approved subject to negotiations with Aldi on section 106 contributions which could bring new changing rooms for the nearby rugby club and improved access.

Councillors voted 10 in favour and three against the proposal to approve the application, against the advice of planning officers.

However the conditions of the section 106 with the supermarket still need to be agreed.