Unanimous recommendation to protect Manning’s Pit
More than 140 members of the public queued to get into Barnstaple Guildhall on Thursday evening to make their voice heard as Barnstaple Town Council discussed the planning application for a development on Manning’s Pit, the local beauty spot held treasured by huge numbers of people. Nearly 3,000 people have signed a petition.
Three members of The Friend’s of Manning’s Pit made impassioned speeches describing the strong feelings for this very special place, as well as the practical planning reasons the proposed plans should be declined. Bev Snowden highlighted the problems of the access through Windsor Road and the huge issues that additional traffic on Pilton’s narrow road will cause. Devon Highways have also written a response to the planning application and recommended refusal on the grounds of the poor access.
Chris Bulpett focused on the ecological aspects and the role of Manning’s Pit as an important wildlife corridor for species moving between the Taw estuary and Exmoor and the fact that it’s a very special and peaceful place valued by many people for its local proximity to Pilton. This was echoed by Martin Kemp who mentioned that the film he made ‘The Magic of Manning’s Pit’ has made people in 143 countries around the world aware of the fight for the preservation of this amazing space. The final point he made was the most poignant, the account of someone who found the peace and solitude of Manning’s Pit significantly helpful in their struggle with mental health problems. It was argued that access to this type of space within walking distance of the town is essential for the health and wellbeing of all residents in the area and any housing development will destroy this peace forever.
The town counsellors were united and emphatic in their recommendations for the planning application to be turned down on the grounds of highways and insufficient infrastructure to support the development especially the very poor road access, critical drainage issues causing increased risk of flooding at Bradiford Water, school numbers and the already oversubscribed schools in Pilton, the threat to the SSSI and the general environmental impact. They also pointed out their concern about further development proposals on greenfield not brownfield sites and that Manning’s Pit is not included in the emerging Local Plan as an area fit for development. It was very obvious that other than the speculator’s representative, Louise Steel, everyone present overwhelmingly opposed the development.