Beginning with Higher Field

Pinhoe’s historic Ridgeline is visible across Exeter. Views of our treescape stretch far beyond the city and underpin the distinctiveness not only of Pinhoe, but of Exeter itself.

Dedicated local residents have photographed Pinhoe’s green skyline from a range of vantage points. They’re documenting resident and visiting wildlife species to evidence biodiversity within the field and the vital importance of its connection to adjacent wildlife corridors and green spaces, themselves under threat of development.

Image from Higher Field FB group, courtesy of Bene and Karan

This citizen science is both compelling and heartening – families of deer continue to roam and the number of visiting birds increases as the year progresses. Summer months will see the return of glow worms as part of the density of biodiversity in this grassland – previously underestimated as habitat but increasingly recognised as essential infrastructure, central to the sustainability of local biodiverse ecologies.

Problems with Planning Protocols

In the context of Exeter City Council’s compromised planning strategy, fundamentally skewed by its lack of a 5 year land supply for housing, Pinhoe has been overwhelmed by serial housing development – leaching historic green corridors, wildlife habitats and tree cover while contributing scant infrastructural, economic or community amenity benefit. Out of frustration and alarm, Pinhoe’s residents have responded to enquiries for further housing development in this field with a well-supported petition demanding greater protection for all green spaces locally.

This sense of concern is shared by many across the city. The fragility of Higher Field’s future and all its wildlife is cause for wider alarm and urgent action.

Opportunities for NEW THINKING

After an unprecedented year of lockdown, access to green space and wildlife habitats have proved essential for everyone. Going for a walk and observing nature have become regular prescriptions for our wellbeing; economic factors which have affected access to green space have been heavily underlined. Policymakers are widely recognising the complex relationships between the health of communities and their relationship to where they live.

The significance of locality in shaping a community’s economic outcomes – the physical fabric of a place, its amenities and economic infrastructures – is now underpinned by an urgency of evidence indicating that a community’s sense of place and the wellbeing of its residents are intimately and fundamentally connected. Opportunities for a new “wealth economy” which incorporates natural and social assets, are emerging and becoming influential.

Kate Jago /