PONTYPOOL RFC are set to stay at their historic Pontypool Park home - and apply to upgrade facilities at the ground - after making "significant progress" in talks with Torfaen council.

The club had said it was looking to leave the council-owned ground it has occupied since 1945 after being plagued by arson, vandalism and other anti-social behaviour, and trouble overcoming a park covenant which had prevented fencing off the rugby facilities.

But this has now been amended to give the local authority flexibility on how the rugby grounds area of the park - which hosted visits from the All Blacks and Wallabies when Pooler were one of the most feared sides in Britain - is managed moving forward.

Torfaen Council leader Anthony Hunt and Pooler CEO Ben Jeffreys at Pontypool Park. www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

Pontypool RFC chief executive officer Ben Jeffreys said: “This is a significant moment in Pontypool RFC’s storied history and is one that should offer hope and positivity to the thousands of supporters who have called Pontypool Park their sporting home for the last seventy-three years."

Pontypool RFC, which is bankrolled by owner and chairman Peter Jeffreys, will shortly be submitting a planning application, which will include new fencing that seeks to enclose the pitch, the main spectator stand and the northern terrace.

This will include details of additional tree planting and a soft landscaping plan, which will help soften the visual impact of the new fence.

Details of wider upgrades to the main spectator stand, such as new cladding and new seating throughout will also be provided.

A consultation with the community, park users and stakeholders on the ‘Playing Field Regulations’ has been launched over the plan today.

This is a legal process which would allow the council to grant a lease to Pontypool RFC, which is this year celebrating its 150th anniversary, to give the club security for the future and allow it to invest in and improve the rugby ground’s facilities.

Pooler CEO Ben Jeffreys and Torfaen Council leader Anthony Hunt at Pontypool Park. www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

Torfaen County Borough Council leader Anthony Hunt said: “I am really pleased with the progress that has been made since our council meeting in July. We have worked closely together with Pontypool RFC to devise solutions to quite complex legal issues and the start of consultation today shows our shared desire for the club to stay in Pontypool Park.

“The public response only reaffirmed the pride and passion the people of Pontypool have for their club. As leader of the Council, I’m always keen that we listen to our residents and wherever possible find solutions to problems. The decision to remain in the park can give a historic club such as Pontypool RFC the very best chances of success for the future and is good news for the town.”

Mr Jeffreys added: “During the summer, we felt we had no alternative but to leave Pontypool Park and it was a decision that weighed heavily on all those who care for this great club.

“Yet it put into stark perspective just how much the people of Pontypool want this beacon of the town to remain as the club’s home and I am pleased that this strategy gives us every opportunity to achieve that.

“Crucially, the club and local authority are now working in complete unison. We have absolute clarity on the steps that must be followed to get our plans over the line and for the first time since we embarked on this process, I am very confident that we will be able to turn Pontypool Park into a modern and vibrant sporting venue that will deliver a much-improved experience for the community.”

Following the consultation, Torfaen council will make a decision on the club's application.

Pooler versus the All Blacks at Pontypool Park.

Both the club and the council wished to express their "sincerest gratitude" to the vendors of the 1920s covenant for their support in facilitating the amendment.

The rest of Pontypool Park will continue to be managed under the existing terms of the covenant, which requires all areas to remain accessible to the public.

Pooler announced its intention to leave the famous ground - home to Ray Prosser’s famous sides of the 1970s and 80s and where they hosted New South Wales in 1927, Australia in 1981 and 1984, New Zealand in 1989 and Fiji in 2002 - after growing frustrated by the lack of progress in discussions to develop the site previously.

It came after volunteers found screwdrivers, nails, knife blades and glass sticking out of the pitch, human faeces in the stands, and seats ripped out. Deliberate fires also caused significant damage on numerous occasions.