CHECKPOINT February 1984

Villagers: resigned but not indifferent

THERE IS AN air of resignation in Henllys Village as the corporation finalise their plans to build a huge housing estate that will surround the community.
Villagers have known about the development for many years, and the proposals were originally strongly opposed by a large number of the villagers. But now that plans are actually going ahead they are accepting the prospect philosophically, even if somewhat reluctantly, in a few cases
MR Tom Jude, a member of Henllys Community Council, explained that the council's main aim now is to make sure the development takes place according to plan, and does not disrupt the village community. Clearly, there is nothing more they can do.
Almost everyone I spoke to felt that the expansion could have a dramatic effect on the community. At the moment there are strong ties between the villagers, and they are naturally apprehensive about large numbers of strangers who will descend on them.
"Everybody here knows each other," one woman told me. " We're just like one big family."
This is an important factor in explaining why they do not have any vandalism, although the occasional motor cyclist speeds through the village causing some annoyance.
But not all the villagers were pessimistic about the future. Some feel that they could well benefit from having more people around. They would almost certainly get a better bus service as a result, and there is even talk of a small shopping centre being built which would be particularly helpful to pensioners.
Probably the person who would benefit the most would be Mr Brian Morgan of the Dorallt Inn, who is hoping to get more customers when the local population starts to rise. He does have mixed feelings however, since the character of the 350year old pub could well be spoilt if it has to be extended, and it could lose a lot of its "olde world" atmosphere.
The possible increase in traffic was a considerable cause for concern among all villagers, largely because Henllys children are not used to much traffic.
"Of course, there will be special play areas," Mrs Angela Saunders, the secretary of a former protest group said. " But children, being children, like playing on the roads." She added that there would also be no footpaths on the road through the village.
The headmaster of Henllys Junior and Infants School, Mr Eric Atkin said that traffic around the school would not be a problem for his pupils. If anything, it would be less of a problem.
If the existing road up to the village is closed

below the school the area will actually be quieter but it is not yet known whether the corporation intend to do this.
Quite a few villagers believe that here is no need to close the road, as it would only need to be used by the villagers themselves.
They include the landlord of the Dorallt, Mr Brian Morgan, and Mrs Margaret Evans of Henllys Community Council, both of whom believe that the road could always be closed if there did turn out to be a lot more traffic than they had anticipated. Many others are equally against the idea, and the best solution of the problem remains to be seen.
There were less strong feelings about the pylons, which would go through the estate if they were not removed by the CEGB. There was concern about children playing near them, but community councillor Gordon Reeks said the pylons had been up "for donkey's years"
Although many Henllys Children have played in the fields around them, there has never been an accident of any kind. He was certainly not the only person who held this view, but there were others who disagreed.
There is some concern about the kind of weather conditions people moving into the proposed houses would have to live with. Many people agreed that Henllys can certainly get a lot colder and wetter than the rest of Cwmbran, and the area sometimes experience freak storms and blizzards. But their views differed considerably on how newcomers would cope living so far up the mountain.
Some described their weather as appalling; Margaret Evans said that for most people in Cwmbran, coming to live in Henllys would be like "moving to the North Pole."
Probably the worst problem in the village is flooding, when a "river" of water, mud and boulders comes down from the mountain after heavy rainfall. Some do not take it too seriously- few houses seem to be affected unless the weather is extraordinary severe. But one villager said that she has to have sandbags at the top of her drive all year round.
Most seem to feel however, that the CDC will probably deal with the problem, and there is no reason to suppose otherwise.
Although the village does not have a flood prevention scheme, one community councillor complained that Torfaen Borough Council were supposed to have started the scheme two months ago, and no explanation has yet been given as to why it has not gone ahead.
One thing is certain, once the new Henllys housing estate has been built life will be very different both for the villagers and the people who move there from other parts of Cwmbran.