A 15-YEAR dispute over a Llantarnam footpath could come to an end next week, when Torfaen council’s cabinet will decide whether to re-open it.

The footpath, which runs between numbers 13 and 14 at John Fielding Gardens, was built around 2006 or 2007, creating at that time a link between the development to Newport Road in Llantarnam, by the way of the Llantarnam Comprehensive School’s playing fields.

However, residents argued that there was no legal right of way across the playing fields, so it was closed in 2012.

A member of the public then made an application to the council to add a footpath, but objections to this meant the council’s cabinet decided not to add a footpath in 2014.

This resulted an appeal, which went back and forth but the footpath has remained closed since.

Eight years since the footpath was closed and the landscape is much different – the playing fields have become the James Prosser Way housing development.

In a 2019 consultation the residents of John Fielding Gardens had “a strong desire for the path remain closed” due to historic reports of anti-social behaviour and concerns “there will be a repeat of the same behaviour causing undue concern and distress to residents”.

A report on the footpath says: “Developments should not be islands.

“We want to create connected, integrated and sustainable communities and a balance must be struck with that aim and management of anti-social behaviour.”

A public consultation, which took place last month, found that 83 per cent of respondents were in favour of the footpath reopening, while 16 per cent were against it.

Those who wanted to keep the footpath closed raised concerns over the safety of children and the increase in foot traffic through the site to the pub on Newport Road.

Concerns were also raised over the legality of opening the footpath.

Local ward member Cllr Alan Slade is against the reopening of the footpath due to fears over anti-social behaviour and the uncertainty over the legality.

The community councillors for Llantarnam however, are in favour of the footpath reopening because “it will provide safer access to the primary school”.

It has been recommended that the council’s cabinet approve the reopening of the footpath, with a final decision due on Tuesday.