A group of dedicated Bodmin residents have been fighting hard to Save Halgavor Moor from development. Supported by Scott Mann, MP for north Cornwall and Bodmin Town Council, they have be en trying to persuade Cornwall Council that this land is not only unsuitable for development on the grounds that it is essentially bogland, but that it is an important and precious resource that must be protected.
The Cornwall CPRE, an independent charity that lobbies to protect Cornwall’s coasts and countryside, have been a major supporter to the group since the concept in 2017, including representation to the Inspector and giving Halgavor national coverage.
This article briefly sets out why the Save Halgavor Moor campaign is trying to prevent the building of between 540 and 770 houses on this ancient moorland.
Since 2013, when Halgavor Moor was put forward for development, the name ‘Moor’ has been dropped. Instead, it is referred to as ‘Halgavor Urban Extension (Bd-UE2)’. It is only because of the public referring to ‘Halgavor Moor’ that the correct name has been retained. The word ‘moor’ conjures up a picture of wild, wet and boggy land enshrined in mist – and that is exactly what it is today. Any development will destroy this.
The long straight watercourse lying roughly NW - SE which divides the area mapped as Halgavor Moor appears to have been created between the date of the tithe map (1841) and the 1st Ordnance Survey 6-in map surveyed in 1881; it is marked on the latter as a mill race, feeding the mill pond for Halgavor Mill (Halgavor Farm). Both the former mill pond and the mill site lie within the proposed development (Bd-UE2).
The present owners of Halgavor Farm have stated in a recent planning application (PA19/01360) that: ‘…the leet that transverses the proposed development plot. It currently runs under the lawn of Halgavor House and alongside our barn, falling into the old waterwheel pit. We would like to reinstate the waterwheel at some point in time. The leet barn and waterwheel have been mentioned in the updated version of the Doomsday Book and we would not like to lose the leet. Currently Halgavor House has a soakaway which leaks into our property. A second dwelling there could be an unacceptable amount of pollution running into our property.’
Halgavor filters the surface water from Bodmin into the Halgavor stream by its natural hydrology features. The Rivers Trust based near Callington and the Fisheries Management of Scotland have joined together to become the ‘‘Missing Salmon Alliance Group of Conservation’ in order to protect the wild salmon population, which should be of grave concern to everyone'. DEFRA has placed a byelaw on the River Camel SAC and its freshwater tributaries which includes the Halgavor stream.
The gravel bed of the Halgavor stream is suitable for spawning salmon and trout.
Otters travel along the stream from Laveddon as far as the A30 and water voles as far as Watermeadow Farm on Halgavor Lane. An otter and her kits were filmed last year at Kirland. The stream currently has kingfisher, bull fish, heron, moorhen, woodcock and dipper.
We must protect, conserve and encourage Bodmin’s rural and urban flora and fauna. Halgavor Moor supports many endangered protected species and is a natural corridor linking Cardinham and Lanhydrock Plantation to Bodmin Beacon Nature Reserve.
Rare orchids and an extremely rare butterfly have been recorded on the lower sports field at the Leisure Centre. Environmental consultants have found evidence of dormice. A rare fungi is growing along Halgavor Lane.
Naturalist, Environmentalist, Climate Change authorities confirm we cannot afford to lose any more of this natural land, and the need to protect this land for both the habitat and us. The Environment Agency and Natural England have shown their concerns by not supporting the Halgavor Development, as they need further clarification of how the developer can mitigate pollution and protect the biodiversity plus a 10% gain as required by the NPPF.
Cornwall Council state: “A 20 metre buffer should be allowed from the top of the watercourse bank to any future development.” If Wainhomes and Cornwall Council believe they can build 540 rising to 770 dwellings and that retaining a 20 metre strip of bogland bordering the Halgavor stream is acceptable, we will all have to live with the consequences should this development be approved.
Bodmin is one of Cornwall’s most historic towns, built on the edge of one of the most iconic moorlands that are unique and truly wonderful spaces that it would be a tragedy to lose.
Halgavor Moor is part of Bodmin Moor as confirmed by the Inspectorate in April 2019: “Halgavor is the last of the Ancient Moorland.” Historically Halgavor Moor was common land used for grazing goats, hence its name, and for recreation such as sports including Cornish Wrestling.
In the 1830s the Borough of Bodmin described the moor as pasture. It is unknown when ownership of the area passed from the Bodmin Cooperation. The first 6-in map showed further subdivision of the moor but also indicated that much of it was still unimproved wet grassland. Parts were still shown as unimproved on the 1938 revised edition of the 6-in map and this has never changed.
It is worth reflecting that Halgavor Moor has been an important asset for Bodmin since medieval times as this 16th century account records.
The name signifieth the Goats moore, and such a place it is, lying a little without the towne, and very full of quauemires.
Carew, high-sheriff of Cornwall in 1586 wrote: The Survey of Cornwall describing noteworthy sites in Cornwall. Featured is Halgavor Moor with its ancient festival sporting Cornish wrestling and revelry enjoyed by locals, especially the young. It is said some came to fight with a Dragon lurking at Halgavor. The moor is respected by locals, stayed by myth, legend and proverb and positionally lies within Bodmin. It recalls the larger Bodmin Moor, yet Halgavor Moor has its own primitive appeal and distinctiveness with sculptural field shapes, looming dark broody skies (uninterrupted by unnatural light) and there is a chaste peacefulness enjoyed by the whole town. Richard Carew
This campaign highlights that the current planning processes pay scant lip service to democracy and it would appear that the power of the huge developers drives development.
Bodmin has just started the process of putting together a Neighbourhood Plan, because a Neighbourhood Plan is the only vehicle that gives local residents a legally recognised say in the future of their home town.
Because a Neighbourhood Plan is based on consultation with residents and has to be accepted at a referendum where residents are asked to vote to support the plan, it carries legal weight.
This is why it is so important that all Bodmin residents get involved with the Neighbourhood Plan.
It is critical that Bodmin’s future is not dictated by massive developers who have no interest in the area other than making profit from house sales.