Torfaen County Borough Council is the third smallest borough in Wales and is situated just north of the M4 corridor bordered by Monmouthshire, Newport, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent. Torfaen is also the third most densely populated local authority area in Wales and has a population of over 91,000 with 18 Electoral Wards represented by 40 councillors. It is a varied, 12 mile long valley from Blaenavon in the north to Cwmbran in the south. In common with the other Welsh valleys, the area has a great iron, steel and coal mining heritage.
Blaenavon was established to exploit the coal and iron resources in the area. Characterised by a dramatic environment rich in cultural and historic assets, and ecological diversity, the cultural landscape around Blaenavon was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2000. One of only four World Heritage Sites in Wales, UNESCO recognised that the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape is one of the best areas in the world where the full social, economic and technological process of industrialisation through iron and coal production can be studied and understood.
Attracting thousands of visitors each year, the area has many important heritage features linked to its industrial past and the town is now famous for the Big Pit National Coal Museum, its 18th century ironworks, Blaenavon Heritage Railway, Workmen’s Hall and the World Heritage Centre. The dramatic natural environment and proximity to the Brecon Beacons National Park also brings many walkers, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts to the area.
Pontypool is located at the centre of Torfaen and was built around industrial wealth with a strong claim to be the first ‘industrial town’ in Wales. Iron furnaces and forges were operating from as early as the 1400s. Between the 1700s and 1900s the area thrived as a major centre for iron and tin-plated ‘Japanware’ products, and a bustling market town emerged. The town has strong links to the Hanbury family, which remain today and the Hanburys were responsible in the 19th century for creating most of the town’s important civic and religious buildings, as well as Pontypool Park.
Today, Pontypool is known for its distinctive architectural heritage, its listed park and Italian gardens, its Victorian market and a strong sense of community spirit. The town centre provides retail, employment and there are many opportunities for recreation and indoor and outdoor exercise, with Pontypool Active Living Centre and Pontypool Ski Centre located within Pontypool Park.
Walkers can choose to follow the Afon Lwyd River, explore the upland landscapes and visit the Folly or Shell Grotto or take in the tranquillity of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. The canal basin at Pontymoile makes an excellent starting point for exploring along the towpath. Llandegfedd reservoir straddles the Torfaen and Monmouthshire border and provides a great location for water sports, bird watching, fishing and walking.
Based around a network of older villages, Cwmbran was designated the first New Town in Wales in 1949. It was designed as a distinctive and modern town offering new opportunities for its residents. The name Cwmbran comes from the Welsh for ‘Valley of the Crow’. The landscape of Cwmbran is different to that Blaenavon or Pontypool, with the town nestled between the impressive backdrop of the south Wales coalfield and the Usk valley.
Cwmbran Shopping is the main retail centre attracting visitors from far afield and with its bus and train station, the town centre acts as Torfaen’s main public transport hub. Although compact, it has an extensive range of services from the pedestrianised retail area to leisure, theatre and arts. Today, Cwmbran remains a popular place to live, providing a successful town centre, excellent road and transport links, a high quality natural environment and varied employment opportunities. You can also visit the popular Greenmeadow Community Farm and enjoy miles of open green spaces that follow the course of the Afon Lwyd and lead to the boating lake.
Torfaen County Borough Council was established on 1st April 1996. The values of the council are to be Supportive, Fair, Effective and Innovative.
The County Plan is a key strategic document that will guide how Torfaen Council delivers its services over the next five years. The County Plan will focus the council’s resources on working with communities to create an improved, more equal and sustainable future for the people of Torfaen.
It sets out the Well-being Objectives the council believes will create a fairer future where everyone has the opportunity to lead healthy, independent lives regardless of who they are or where they live, where people achieve the best possible outcomes in life and where everyone contributes to creating cleaner and stronger communities.
These priorities recognise the challenges facing Torfaen residents as a consequence of budget pressures, rising inequalities in health outcomes and demand for services.
Last Modified: 14/02/2023
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