Community Governance Review

West Devon Borough Council is currently reviewing governance arrangements in Okehampton and Sydenham Damerel.

What is a Community Governance Review?

Community Governance Reviews provide the opportunity for the Borough Council to review and make changes to community governance within our local area. It can be helpful to undertake a community governance review in circumstances such as where there have been changes in population, local housing developments or in reaction to specific or local new issues.

Over time, communities may expand with new housing developments. This can often lead to existing parish boundaries becoming anomalous as new houses are built across the boundaries. This means that people can find themselves in different parishes from their neighbours.

Reviews also offer the chance for the Council to consider the future of small or dwindling parishes, often the result of an insufficient number of local electors within the area, who are willing to serve on a parish council.

Ultimately, the recommendations made in a community governance review ought to bring about improved community engagement, better local democracy and result in more effective and convenient delivery of local services.

There are several ways in which a Community Governance Review can be requested these include by a petition received from the public, a Motion brought to West Devon Borough Council by a local Ward Councillor or by the West Devon Borough Council itself.


Once begun, Community Governance Reviews have a number of stages that must be completed within a year of starting, but at their heart is the principal of consultation with those affected by the proposals being considered. As a result comments from the public, local residents and other affected bodies are invited throughout the process;

The Council currently has two Community Governance Reviews underway and residents of the affected areas are invited to comment on the following proposals, providing their comments, support for or objection to them or to submit alternative proposals for consideration;

Sydenham Damerel:

A proposal to abolish the Sydenham Damerel Parish Council and establish the parish as a 'Parish Meetings' only parish;

'We, the undersigned, being electors within the Parish of Sydenham Damerel in the Borough of West Devon, do hereby request that West Devon Borough Council undertake a Community Governance Review of the parish of Sydenham Damerel. We wish the review to abolish the Sydenham Damerel Parish Council and establish the parish as a Parish Meetings-only parish'


A proposal to review the existing parish boundaries of Okehampton Town Council in addition to the surrounding Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council area boundaries;

'The Town Council feels strongly that residents of greater Okehampton should be able to feel part of the urban area and have a democratic voice to the community they believe they are part of, bringing a sense of community inclusion and identity.

A change to the boundary would bring the recent urban developments into the town increasing the population. This would give OTC greater opportunity to:

  • Continue to afford Community projects
  • Continue to provide services for the benefit of all
  • Give OTC a greater democratic voice within the County and Central Government
  • Bring increased opportunities and access to a wider range of funding
  • To provide future growth opportunities'


There are a number of Stages required before the Review is completed. For the two Reviews currently being undertaken the stages and timings were initially agreed at a meeting of West Devon Council in February 2023, however due to unavoidable delays in the process,  amended dates (shown in bold text) were approved by the Council on 18 July 2023.

Stage Description Date
Stage 1 Publication of the Terms of Reference for each Review Thu 23 February
Stage 2

Introductory Stage: Submissions and views sought and invited on existing arrangements.

The Borough Council invites comments and proposals from affected residents and other stakeholders on the proposals made.

Thu 23 February to Wed 14 June
Stage 3

Consideration of Initial Submissions:

Comments and Proposals received during Stage 2 to be considered and recommendations will be made to the Council at its meeting to be held on 3 October 2023.

Wed 14 June to Tue 3 October 2023
Stage 4

Consultation on Published Draft Proposals:

Any recommendations made by the Council at its meeting in July 2023 will be circulated to affected residents and stakeholders and their further comments and/or proposals invited

Thu 5 October - Fri 1 December 2023
Stage 5

Final Recommendations:

Comments and Proposals received during Stage 4 to be considered by the Council at its meeting to be held 20 February 2024 and final recommendations made

Mon, 4 December - Tue 20 February 2024

Stage 6


Final recommendations published. The Council resolves (if appropriate) to make a Reorganisation of Community Governance Order.

For administrative and financial purposes, the Order would take effect on 1 April 2025.

Electoral arrangements for an existing town and/or parish council will come into force at the first elections to the town and/or parish council following (any) Reorganisation Order, which will be May 2027.

Tuesday, 20 February 2024

1 Apr 2025

May 2027

Have your say

Summary of the Community Governance Review Report to the West Devon Borough Council meeting of 3 October 2023:

In accordance with the adopted Terms of Reference for both Reviews, and following the closure of the first public consultation phase which sought the views of local residents and key stakeholders on the proposals before them, relevant information and all of the comments received during the Consultation were considered by the Council through its ‘People and Communities Hub Advisory Group.’

The Advisory Group met three times and focused on:

  • 8 August 2023 – initial consideration and thoughts around the issues raised during the public consultation exercise;
  • 29 August 2023 – representatives from Okehampton Town Council and the petition organiser from Sydenham Damerel attended provided presentations to the Group and responded to Member questions; and
  • 12 September 2023 – a representative from Okehampton Parish Council attended and provided a presentation to the Group before responding to Member questions.

Following detailed consideration of all the information, the Advisory Group concluded that the following proposals for each Review should be subject to a second round of public consultation:

  • For Okehampton that two options should be considered, either to amend the boundaries in line with the proposal contained in the original Petition, or to retain the status quo; and,
  • for Sydenham Damerel, that the Parish Council be abolished and replaced by a ‘Parish Meeting’ form of governance.

The Recommendations were considered and accepted by a meeting of West Devon Borough Council on Tuesday 3 October 2023.

The full report can be accessed here.

Next Steps:

In line with the adopted Terms of Reference, a second public consultation phase has now opened and we will be writing to every household in the respective Town and Parish Council areas offering the opportunity to make any final comments on the proposals being considered.

For Okehampton, either

  • Option 1that the existing parish boundaries of Okehampton Town Council and Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council be amended in line with those presented on the original petition document; or
  • Option 2that the status quo be retained in relation to the parish boundaries of Okehampton Town Council and Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council.

And for Sydenham Damerel, that:

  • “the Parish Council be abolished and replaced by a ‘Parish Meeting’ form of governance.”

This Consultation will close at 5.00pm on Friday, 1 December 2023.

Any comments received will once again be considered by the People and Communities Hub Advisory Group before West Devon Borough Council makes a final decision on the outcome of each Community Governance Review at its meeting on Tuesday, 20 February 2024.

As part of the consultation process, all comments will be published online, but comments containing offensive material or personal details will be redacted.

Read Comments - Okehampton

Read Comments - Sydenham Damerel

Terms of Reference

The full terms of reference for the Community Governance Review are available here.