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Torfaen residents opposed to community hub development due to noise

Previous design that the club no longer intends building (Pic: Torfaen County Borough Council planning file)

A COUPLE have claimed a sports club – which has been given permission to build a new clubhouse – is blighting the tranquility of their village. 

Ponthir Sports and Community Club has been given permission to add a new two-storey community hub, with two licensed bars, to its grounds in the village north of Newport, as well as to convert its existing cricket pavilion to new changing rooms and revamp its car park. 

But Gay Reynolds and husband David, of Station Road which borders the recreation ground, spoke against the application when it was considered by Torfaen Borough Council’s planning committee on Thursday, June 15. 

Mr Reynolds said the residents of all nine homes on their street had objected to the application and told the committee: “The proposed development will have a negative impact on that quintessentially British idyll, the village green.” 

His wife said she, and others, weren’t opposed to the club’s plans to increase sports provision but described the proposed 6.5 metres-high community hub as a “two-storey events venue bound to increase noise and anti-social behaviour”. 

Mrs Reynolds said club members already use it as a social club and feared the new venue would be used “up to seven days a week up to 11pm”. 

She added: “We are unable to have the quiet enjoyment of our properties due to the unacceptable levels of noise and anti-social behaviour.” 

Complaints have already been lodged with the club, and Mrs Reynolds said six out of 10 of these had been made by herself, and while she has previously dealt directly with the club she said she had made a complaint to the council following an event in May. 

As the club directors intended to maximise use of the venue, and host weddings, Mrs Reynolds said she feared noise would only increase. 

Club secretary John Parfitt said it would be “foolish” of him to sit before the committee and say the club has “never caused any disturbance to our neighbours” and he doubted any licensee in the borough could claim that. 

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But he said the club sends out information of start and finish times of events with a dedicated phone line for residents to call and it always investigates complaints, though he said some are related to people leaving other licensed venues and walking past the club. 

“We do all that not because we are a major source of noise but because we don’t want to become one.” 

He also said the council’s environmental health department records would show it had only received complaints on noise since the club put its planning application in but he said there is support for its plans locally. 

“Our proposals have received overwhelming community support and the responses are something like a ratio of five to one in support and we held a public meeting which approximately 60 people attended.” 

The plans would result in more than £1 million of investment in the village, said Mr Parfitt who told councillors: “It will help the council towards a number of its key strategies on health and wellbeing.” 

Ponthir and Llanfrechfa councillor Karl Gauden said he had “real sympathy” with the objectors and their concerns over noise and said: “I get both sides of the argument, I really do.” 

But he said, as Mr Parfitt had suggested, the council’s licensing department, which has the power to review alcohol licences, would be better placed to resolve any issues, and said the club is important to the community. There are currently four senior football teams, nine girls’ football teams, three senior cricket sides and four boules teams using the club, which also hosts Italian language classes and coffee mornings. 

The Labour councillor said: “I attended an event there recently with Noel Mooney, who is the chief executive of the Football Association of Wales – so quite a dignitary – who opened a new sports field. The club are really ambitious and attracting a girls’ football team.” 

The application was approved with nine members voting in favour and none against though Llanyrafon Labour member David Williams abstained. 

Conditions which would have limited the use of the site, to between 6pm and 11pm, were amended to 9am to 11pm following clarification from the club.