The entrance to Abersychan School
A general view of the entrance to Abersychan School Credit: Google Street View

A £2 MILLION 3G sports pitch planned for a comprehensive school has won the unanimous approval of a council planning committee. 

It will replace an existing 2G artificial surface and a grass pitch at Abersychan Comprehensive school.  

The pitch, which will be available for community use until 9pm on weeknights, and 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays, will be lit by four floodlights on either side. 

Eight new floodlights will also be provided for the school’s existing tennis and netball courts. 

However a planning condition to protect bats during their foraging season means the floodlights cannot be used between April and October every year. 

Pontypool Labour councillor Gaynor James told Torfaen Borough Council’s planning committee she welcomed the authority’s application and said: “This is a no-brainer. It’s a well needed application that’s really good and fantastic for future well being. I will be voting for this application.” 

Pontnewydd Cwmbran Labour member Stuart Ashley said he was “very much in support of this much needed resource” but said there were “several issues” to be addressed in the application including the loss of trees and potential light pollution. 

Borough planning officer Mia McAndrew said the floodlights will be directed at the pitch and courts and that the inevitable “spillage would be minimal” but the condition on use will be in place. 

She also said the majority of trees that will be removed from the south of the pitch, within school grounds, in response to Cllr Ashley’s concern the loss of trees will increase light pollution. 

He said: “The nearest floodlights to me are half a mile away but you can see them where the trees have been taken out.” 

Ms McAndrew confirmed a large number of mature ash trees will be felled, but said they have been damaged by ash dieback disease, but said a further six individual trees would also be removed but the council would aim to replace them to the national standard of three new trees to replace each one lost. 

The plans also include a new drainage system, as Ms McAndrew said existing drainage systems issues can limit use of the pitch”, but the details of it will be agreed with drainage authority. 

Two 50 seat capacity spectator stands will be built on one side of the pitch with dug outs while the steel-mesh fencing surrounding the pitch will vary in height with its tallest point being five metres high behind each goal end with three metre high netting above it. 

Pontypool independent councillor Mark Jones asked for assurance the 3G pitch will also be suitable for rugby. He said: “I want it on record it has the extra padding for rugby unlike the one at Cwmbran Stadium which is not.” 

Ms McAndrew said she would have to “double check” to confirm the suitability of the pitch but said: “I would presume so as the education department want it to be an all rounds sports facility and not just for football.” 

The full council agreed to use money from the UK Government Shared Prosperity Fund on providing the 3G pitch at the school, in June last year, and councillors were told then it would meet the standards of football and rugby’s world governing bodies. 

When the planning commitee was asked, as is standard, to confirm if members had any interest to declare Llantarnam independent Alan Slade said: “I think it’s worth pointing out I attended Abersychan School but many years ago when it was a grammar.” 

During the debate Blaenavon independent, Cllr Janet Jones added she had also attended Abersychan. 

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