A campaign has been launched to buy much-loved Barnstaple beauty spot Manning’s Pit for the community.

Mannings Pit at Pilton. Picture: Martin Haddrill.Mannings Pit at Pilton. Picture: Martin Haddrill.

The Friends of Manning's Pit group has unveiled a bid to raise more than £250,000 for the site, which it says has been used by locals for at least a century.

It is set to go back on the open market, but as it is a designated asset of community value, the community group has the ability to put the sale on hold until January, 2020, to give it time to raise the money.

It does not mean the owner, Summix (Barnstaple) Developments LLP, is obliged to sell to the group or offer any sort of discount.

The area is much-loved by artists and most Pilton children have grown up playing there. It is a popular spot for walkers and dog walkers.

Pilton locals have grown up enjoying the popular Mannings Pit.Pilton locals have grown up enjoying the popular Mannings Pit.

An application to build 41 homes at Manning's Pit was withdrawn in March 2018 and follows an earlier bid in 2016 for 138 homes.

In September 2018 the site was designated as an asset of community value, which means the owner must inform North Devon Council (NDC) of any wich to sell the site. That has now happened.

The community group believes it is possible to raise the money and has urged everyone who loves Manning's Pit to get behind the campaign and make a donation.

Chairman Christine Lovelock said the group is 'fired up', adding: "Now is the time for all the people who love this special place to come together and show how much it means to them by donating generously.

Two Trees in a Frosty Field, a painting by Christine Lovelock, captured at Mannings Pit, PiltonTwo Trees in a Frosty Field, a painting by Christine Lovelock, captured at Mannings Pit, Pilton

"This is the only opportunity they have to really do this and to save it for the community forever."

Councillor Ian Roome, North Devon Council ward member and Pilton resident, said he was '100 per cent behind this campaign'.

He said: "Manning's Pit is a vital open space area of outstanding natural beauty, it's an asset to the community and one that we should all rally around and try and save from any sort of development.

"It's not just for Barnstaple, it has many visitors from the whole of Devon and further afield."

The appeal launched on Friday with a new 'Buy Manning's Pit' banner at the Yeo Dale Hotel in Pilton, as well as the launch of a new film, Manning's Pit - Our Future, by professional filmmaker and Pilton bred resident Ty Redif.

If you would like to donate to the appeal, go to www.Manningspit.com or The Friends of Manning's Pit Facebook page. Ty's film will be available to view online following its launch on Saturday, October 19.

The Friends of Manning's Pit are working in conjunction with local charity Pilton Green Man CIO to raise the money.