COUNCILLORS have voted to protect a key area of Pontypool in future developments - and make sure the facelift attracts visitors and businesses into the town.

Torfaen councillors have approved the Clarence Corner development brief, which lays out a strict set of guidelines that planning applicants must adhere to if they are to build on the land.

The council brief states that the Clarence Corner area is the southern gateway to Pontypool town centre, and is characterised as an area of neglect and decline, which reflects badly on the town as a whole.

The area concerned includes the former British Gas depot opposite Pontypool Leisure Centre and properties along Clarence Road, Clarence Street and Trosnant Street.

Councillor John Marshall, cabinet member for the environment, said: "The Clarence Corner is the first thing people see when they come into Pontypool, and it's not a very attractive sight.

"The quicker we bring the area up to a good standard the better it will be for Pontypool. At the moment it's neglected and certain buildings, especially the former Clarence Hotel, are an eyesore.

"We need to attract more people into the town and this area is turning them away. This guide has come at the right time for the town."

The council has laid down proposals that the Clarence Corner area should be developed to include housing, office developments and leisure uses.

One of the main proposals in the guide is a change in ground levels, to build up levels on the former British Gas depot to tie in with Clarence Street, creating a large area for development.

The Clarence Hotel is already set for a £1.6 million investment by Eastern Valley Housing Association.

The building is to be refurbished creating 14 flats, 4,300 sqft of office space and 4,200 sqft of conference space.

The front of the hotel will also be restored.