A much-loved beauty spot in Barnstaple has been designated an Asset of Community Value.

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

The Friends of Manning’s Pit group has spent years protesting plans to develop the site in Pilton.

In March this year, proposals for 41 homes for the site were withdrawn, and now campaigners are celebrating this latest victory.

North Devon Council published its decision to make the land an Asset of Community Value yesterday (Monday).

It means should owners Summix (Barnstaple) Developments LLP wish to sell the site, they must inform North Devon Council.

People of Pilton show their feelings for Mannings PitPeople of Pilton show their feelings for Mannings Pit

A community group can then put the sale on hold for six months to allow them time to raise money to buy the asset.

It does not mean the owner has to sell the land to the group, nor do they have to offer the group any form of discount.

Ken Miles, head of corporate and community for North Devon Council, published the decision notice.

He said: “In my view, taking into account the evidence and representations submitted, there is a current use of the land that is not an ancillary use which furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the community and it is realistic to consider that there can continue to be a non-ancillary use of the land which will further the social wellbeing or social interest of the local community.

People of Pilton show their feelings for Mannings PitPeople of Pilton show their feelings for Mannings Pit

“My conclusion is that therefore the land should be included within the list of assets of community value.”

When Summix (Barnstaple) Developments LLP withdrew their plans, North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones said he was ‘delighted’.

He said: “I have always opposed any development at this beautiful location, and indeed arranged for the Environment Agency to visit the site to strengthen our arguments against the plans.

“However, we must be on our guard. These plans have not gone away for good.

“I feel sure the developers will not give up and will want to build houses there one day. We must be ready to keep fighting.”

Christine Lovelock, from the Friends of Manning’s Pit Group, said: “We are delighted with the official recognition this gives Manning’s Pit and grateful for the support we have received from our ward members.

“There can be few places that are treasured more by their local community than Manning’s Pit, as was evidenced by the hundreds of letters written to the council in objection to the planning application that was withdrawn this spring.”