There are many layers and aspects of Governance for any one place. Members of Parliaments and National laws, district council, local (civil) Parish Councils and for some ‘lucky ones’ being a conservation area increases the legal requirements, as does the ‘listing’ of buildings. This post is largely concerning the Parish but briefly considers the meaning of being in a conservation area first.
The Civic Amenities Act 1967 (Section 69 (1)a ) defines a Conservation Area as:
‘an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’
There are 25 Conservation Areas within Dartmoor National Park, and such designation puts additional requirements on local planning, not to prevent change but to enhance rather than lose the specific characteristics of that area. A map of Sticklepath conservation area is available here.
Historically the majority of Sticklepath village was in the Parish of Sampford Courtenay whose Parish church and named village is 5 ½ miles away. Some SticklepathVillage residents however lived over the border in Belstone Parish or in South Tawton Parish. It was not until 1987 the Sticklepath became a Parish in its own right. Local Parish Councils and Town Councils work towards improving community well-being and providing better services at local level. They are the tier of local government below the level of district, borough or city council, the tier closest to the people.
The Women’s Institute was involved in campaigning for Sticklepath to become a Civil Parish and it was a WI member Ann Bowden who became the first chair of the Parish Council, maintaining that position for 13 years. She handed over the role to Councillor Paul Gray. Robin Brindley was the first Clerk. Early achievements included the provision of a children’s playground.
Considerable efforts were made to involve local people including exhibitions, debates on controversial topics and other special events. About 10% of the population attended annual general meetings of the Parish Council in the early days.
Sticklepath Parish is 1.662 square kilometres with a population of 405 in 2001 census, and 414 in 2011, dropping back to 402 as estimated by the Office for National Statistics in 2020. The very long standing Devon tradition of ‘beating the bounds’ was instituted along the new boundaries. However, this was unable to take place in 2020 and in 2021 some landowners refused to allow walkers to pass along the boundary. A blow to having a real community sense of place and belonging.
Sticklepath Parish Council continues to be proactive and a key part of community life today.
Sticklepath Village Appraisal, part of the requirements for a conservation area, is available online. It includes a number of useful maps.