The bid to buy Pilton beauty spot Mannings Pit for the community has gained a little more time after it failed to sell at auction.

The 21 acres of pasture land did not reach its reserve price when it when under the virtual hammer of auctioneers Clive Emson on September 23.

The company website currently says it is available for £188,000 plus fees.

The area has been used for rest and recreation by generations of Pilton people and campaigners fear it could be lost to housing development.

A campaign by the Friends of Mannings Pit has raised £113,000 so far but the group urgently needs to raise more if it is to purchase the land and keep it for the community forever.

Chairman Christine Lovelock said: “We have opened a dialogue with the seller to see if we can agree terms and it is more important than ever that people donate to help us reach a figure that will get the deal over the line.

“On the last Sunday before Manning’s Pit went to auction, people were out walking though these beautiful fields from sunrise to sunset, demonstrating in a socially distanced way how much Manning’s Pit means to them all.”

The site has been the subject of several development bids, with the last planning application for 41 homes withdrawn in 2018.

The campaign has even had the support of local developers - Barratt David Wilson Homes, building in a field adjacent to Manning’s Pit, presented the Friends of Manning’s Pit group with a cheque for £1,000 just before the first planned auction was cancelled in March.

Newland Homes managing director David Foreman also sent the group a message: “We have just completed a development of 21 properties at Barbican Road in Barnstaple on a brownfield town centre site that was a redundant gas works. This is the ideal scenario for the provision of new housing.

“We also believe that at times it is appropriate to build on green fields or farmland, providing it is in a sustainable location and there is a demonstrated housing need, and other viable alternatives are not available.

“I know Manning’s Pit very well, and it is different. It is a beautiful and special place that should not be encroached upon by new housing. Manning’s Pit should be saved for its outstanding beauty, its ecology and its valuable public amenity.”

Anyone willing to make a donation can visit https://manningspit.com or call 01271 376594 or 07812 704694 for more information.