COUNCILLORS in Torfaen have voted to join a regional development plan with other local authorities, despite opposition members branding it "a colossal waste of money".

The council will join nine others across south east Wales, including the four other Gwent authorities, to prepare a Strategic Development Plan (SDP) covering the Cardiff Capital Region.

But opposition councillors called the project “a colossal waste of money” and “completely unnecessary”, but supporters said it would improve collaboration and help bring investment.


Conservative councillor Huw Bevan raised concerns the SDP would take decisions away from the council’s planning committee.

“If members approve this today we are basically giving Cardiff city and the new SDP carte blanche to determine what goes where in this borough in terms of housing, roads and green open spaces, even to the extent of where we put our schools,” he said.

However Richard Lewis, head of planning at the council, said the SDP would not affect how local decisions are made, and that it would only look at bigger strategic sites.

The body is being set up to look at issues which cut across council boundaries.

It will sit above each authority’s own Local Development Plan, and below national planning strategies.

Council leader, Anthony Hunt, said it is important for the council to work together with others in the region for economic development.

Cllr Hunt said not joining the plan would “damage” Torfaen, an an authority and region.

“I get the reticence people have because this is in a way exchanging power for influence but it is exchanging power for influence in order to achieve the greater good of the strategic approach regionally,” he added.

Torfaen council will pay £136,590 over a five-year period to the scheme, equating to £27,318 per year.

The figure is one of the lowest out of the 10 councils in the partnership, with Cardiff paying the highest at £682,636 over five years, based on its size and population.

However Torfaen will have less voting power, with just one vote compared to Cardiff’s five.

Councillor Jason O’Connell said the scheme was a “colossal waste of money for Torfaen for next to no benefit.”

But council officers said the project forms part of the “jigsaw of the City Deal”, helping to make the area “a good place to invest.”

An amendment was proposed to defer a decision on joining the SDP, but this was defeated, and the recommendations agreeing to join approved.