Parish Plan

Thornbury Hamlets Parish Plan


In response to a government initiative to increase community involvement in local planning policies in 2004, a Parish Plan was created in 2012 by a Steering Group within the community. This set out a number of initiatives and an Implementation  Group was tasked with driving them forward.  You can read the original published plan below, or download a pdf copy here :  Thornbury Hamlets Parish Plan 2012.

The work of the Implementation Group is ongoing, and future developments will be reported here – new members are always welcome, contact the Tatler Editor if you feel able to help.




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Forward – Chair, Thornbury Parish Council

Dear Parishioner,

Here is your copy of the 2012 Thornbury Hamlets Parish Plan, which has been written using the results from the questionnaires distributed in the summer of 2012. It outlines the Parish as it was, as it is now and as you would like it to be in the future.

This is not a static document, but one that will be reviewed periodically to reflect the ever-changing demands of life in the 21st Century and the wishes of all those who live and work here. In order for Thornbury Hamlets to thrive and prosper, local participation will be necessary to orchestrate future developments and implement some of the actions necessary in order for us all to move forward with confidence. If you have a particular interest in any of the issues raised within this plan, and can spare some time to help organise, co-ordinate, stage manage or help in any way, please contact Linda Bond on 01409 261313 to register your interest in the future of Thornbury.

As Parish Council Chair, may I take this opportunity to thank all those involved in the production of this plan, in particular the Martin Rich and the Parish Plan Steering Group. I also wish to thank all the parishioners who eagerly responded to the questionnaires, without whom this plan would not be possible. Your opinions and input have been, and will continue to be, a vital part of any plan, now and in the future. Thank you.

CHAIR, Thornbury Parish Council


Members of the Parish Plan Steering Group (at the time of publication in 2012)


Linda Bond          Chair
Thelma Priest       Secretary
Robert Priest       Treasurer
Lynden Hughes
Keith Hutchings
Kath Howarth
Steven Sanders
Michael Pett
Denise Mitchell
Lisa Pinno
Gaye Tabor
Glen Headland



Plan map

Thornbury Parish lies in rural North Devon, five miles N.E. of the market town of Holsworthy. Falling within the Torridge Ward of Devon County Council, it is composed of some 2800 acres of predominantly agricultural and arable land flanked by the River Waldon, which rises in Bradworthy, runs by Sutcombe and Milton Damerel and falls into the Torridge near Bradford. Thornbury Parish is laced with the Waldon’s tributaries.

To the North lies the A39, known as the Atlantic Highway, which provides easy access to the more major towns of Bideford and Barnstaple to the North and Cornwall in the South. The coastal town of Bude, with its family friendly beaches and cliff-top walks, lies some 14 miles to the West, and the A30 at nearby Okehampton makes for easy access to Exeter and the M5 motorway. The three moors of Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin, which surround the parish, offer stunning scenery, plentiful wildlife and diverse walking opportunities.

Five hamlets comprise the Thornbury Parish: Brendon, Lashbrook, South Wonford, Thornbury and Woodacott, each with its own distinctive character, descended from its historical provenance as part of the Black Torrington Hundred:

  • Brendon is very much working farmland. Several original smallholdings were bought by a local farmer and now combine to form today’s pastoral habitat, nestling in a secluded stream bordered valley, where the present day working farm boasts 115 acres dedicated to grazing.
  • Lashbrook to the South was the largest combined holding in Norman times – three times the size of surrounding hamlets. It took its name from the Lechebroc – the small stream running through the bottom of the valley. Little Lashbrook Farmhouse was originally a chapel serving the residents of Lashbrook in the 17th Century. Two farms remain to this day, the remaining 5 dwellings being residential. There is historical evidence of a family of Lashbrooks in the area and down as far as Beaworthy, and it is thought one William Lashbrook could have given his name to the area prior to his ancestors emigrating to Virginia.
  • South Wonford’s ancient spelling was Wenford, meaning a wagon was able to cross a ford. Berry Farm was the home of William da la Beara, and Bagbeare Farm, (ancient spelling Baggebere, meaning Bagga’s Wood) dating from the mid 17th Century, gave its name to the family who lived there for some centuries.
  • Thornbury takes its name from ancient earthworks, of which there is now no trace. The population is recorded as being 330 in 1801, reducing to 291 in 1901. The Church (St Peter) was originally built in the 12th century but was rebuilt in c1330 and retains much 14th century work. All that remains of the original structure is the Norman doorway, dating back to c1150. The tower was raised in 1876 as part of a restoration that obscured most of the original features. The thatched cottage next to the church was once a thriving public house, but is now residential, and the village hall has fallen into disrepair, leaving the central hamlet without amenities.
  • Woodacott was originally spelt Wodecote after Aungerede de Wodecote who lived there. In times gone by this was an area of smallholdings, which saw the now disused lane from Roseland in constant use, as were cart tracks up as far as Portlane Bridge, hosting parishioners travelling to and from Holsworthy Livestock Market. Most domestic water came from local wells until 1952, when mains water arrived, closely followed by electricity in 1957. Today it is home to a holiday park and a swimming pool and gymnasium, complete with snack bar.

There is mention of this peaceful rural community as far back as the Doomsday book of 1086. After the Conquest of 1066, Walter d’Omonville is shown to be a tenant of Ruald Abobed in South Wonford. Ruald Abobed is thought to have been the alias of one Roald Dubbed who came to England with William the Conqueror and was knighted and rewarded with Doomsday Estates in Devonshire (amongst many other shires) for his loyal service, but there is a school of thought that suggests this could be Ralph de Limesi, a powerful Tenant-in-chief in several counties (including Devon) in post Conquest England. Many have speculated that de Limesi was William’s nephew, but this remains unproven and open to debate. No matter that this remains a mystery – Walter d’Omonville is recorded as housing a mere 20 cattle. Present day Thornbury hamlets, with their countless heads of contented cattle, can easily put him to shame.  Interestingly, the Doomsday book also notes a Roger, leasing land in Lashbrook from Baldwin the Sherriff to house 17 cattle and 21 goats and a Ralph leasing land from Tavistock Church for his 14 cattle and 30 goats.

In more recent years, White’s Devonshire Directory of 1850 declares Thornbury part of the Holsworthy Union, with an acreage of 2006 and population of 524 souls. Two sisters, Mrs. Freer and Mrs. Fowke are named as being owners of Thornbury Manor and the surrounding land, together with the rectory which was valued at £221 in 1831, and leased to a Rev. W Edgecumbe. Local farmers of the day were noted as being Richard Allin and Matthew Cole (Brendon) Arthur Hutchings (Penwarden Dd) John Mountjoy (Bagbeare) and John Priest (Trible Abraham). Some of these names prevail in our community today, revealing a passion for and loyalty to this lovely corner of Devon.



Local government initiated community involvement in local planning policies in 2004. The development of Parish Plans was seen as a means of:

  • Engaging residents with planning processes.
  • Identifying issues, which directly affect them.
  • Prioritising these issues.
  • Producing action plans to either preserve existing environmental issues, or promote change where needed.
  • Influencing ongoing community services and facilities and creating new ones where needed.
  • Influencing planning decisions and identifying the need for affordable housing, community facilities and the preservation of open spaces.
  • Outlining action plans and appointing local residents to facilitate any changes required.
  • Fostering and promoting more community involvement within the parish.



On October 6th 2010 all local parishioners were invited to a meeting at Bradford Village Hall led by Mr. Trevor Jollow, Chairman of the Parish Council.  During this meeting Martin Rich, from Devon Community Council, gave a presentation on Parish Planning and explained the process of drawing up a Parish Plan together with a detailed Action Plan for the parish, which he estimated would take 12 – 18 months to complete.

This was followed by a presentation by Denise Mitchell on behalf of the Parish Council.

Malcolm Harris gave the District Council viewpoint and stressed the importance of producing a plan that would inform the Council of the Parish’s needs and stated that Torridge District Council could possibly help with financing the production of such a plan.

Our then District Councilor, Gaye Tabor, gave a short presentation offering support for the project with a £500 start up fund.

Aggie Szpinda, from the Community Council of Devon also addressed local parishioners.

Nominations for a Steering Group were put forward and were proposed by Chris Ward and seconded by Steven Sanders.

This new Steering Group then formed a constitution and started to meet on a regular basis to push the project forward. By November 2010 it was agreed that a questionnaire distributed to local parishioners would be the easiest way to gather information. Detailed questions were drawn up and carefully reviewed by the Steering Group in order to maximize the information received from parishioners. 152 adult Questionnaires and 20 youth Questionnaires were then distributed in August 2011 and collected some two weeks later, having been completed by each household.

The information received was then collated and analysed by the Steering Group, who followed the advice of Martin Rich and prepared a Draft Action Plan, to be later followed by this full Parish Plan.

This Action Plan is now our Parish’s reference document, a working base against which we can monitor our actions, implement our plans and chart our progress. It will be reviewed on a regular basis as the Parish requires and the times dictate, so that the up-to-date views of parishioners are always represented.



A total of 102 households were identified within the Parish, each of which received a Questionnaire. 231 parishioners responded, which enabled the Steering Group to form a profile of the Parish, including household size and age of occupants, length of time resident within the Parish, percentage of population by age and the types of housing occupied.


Age gender




2 person households are the most prevalent, but there are a high proportion of people living alone and many of these are elderly. The “Battle of the Sexes” proved fairly evenly balanced, and the largest age group is in the active 40 – 59 years bracket. With 18% falling in the 65 -74 years bracket, it became apparent that these residents should be more carefully monitored in terms of general welfare and in extreme weather conditions. Whilst the Parish continues to welcome newcomers, over half the present population has lived within the Parish for over 11 years and many have lived here for 20 years or more.


Existing housing in Thornbury Parish consists of a pleasing mix of agricultural and residential buildings, from the historical Manor House, through imposing farmhouses to cosy cottages and contemporary bungalows. Whilst 25% of respondents did not see any need for new housing and 75% felt their housing needs were being met, 46% of households have acknowledged additional housing needs within the next 10 years. 43% of parishioners would support additional building within the parish, with 45% against development. A majority 86% of all respondents felt that any new housing should be prioritized for local people.



The weekly bus into Holsworthy has only a 3-hour turn around and thus most residents use private vehicles for travel. There are no rail links in the immediate vicinity, but good road links to all major towns and cities. Being a rural community, Thornbury depends upon its roads in order to access the wider area for shopping, entertainment and employment and thus the condition of roadways becomes of paramount importance, particularly in winter when ice and snow can lead to treacherous conditions on the route into Holsworthy. 87% of residents felt that local roads were not well maintained and 49% were prepared to assist with gritting roads in winter. The elderly population depends on others for transport, with 33 % expressing interest in a car-sharing scheme. Holsworthy Community Transport and Devon County Car Share offer other options for local travel. There are many agricultural vehicles in the area and thus traffic speeds are generally slow – 60% of residents felt there was no problem with traffic speeds, except at Woodacott Cross, which was identified as a problem area by the majority of the 27% of parishioners who felt there were problem areas. 60% of all residents felt there was no problem with the speed of traffic and only 14% felt unsafe when cycling. Just over half of all respondents felt a need to improve signage and road markings.


Thornbury Parish represents a tight knit community, but one that is spread out over the various hamlets, with no central shop or community venue to tie the sub communities together. In recent years the Parish voted to sell the existing and somewhat dilapidated village hall rather than refurbish, and the Questionnaires revealed a strong desire for a community venue, with 70% in favour and the majority believing this should be a new build that they would use for various functions and entertainment. 60% of the Thornbury population was found to already attend events within the parish and were likely to continue to do so.

New venue Already attend


Predominantly agricultural, Thornbury boasts vast tracts of pastoral land, which are privately owned and managed. The questionnaires revealed a strong desire by the majority of the population to maintain the status quo of the area and preserve its inherent beauty by means of protecting trees and hedgerows, enforcing planning controls and generally keeping the area tidy and in a state of good repair.


However, time and its demands move on and thus 77% of parishioners believed the parish should make itself available for sustainable energy projects. 54% felt we should explore solar power, 32% were in favour of wind farms and 20% would be keen to utilise waterpower. 23% were completely adverse to sustainable energy in the area.


With regards to the maintenance of the environment and the provision of services, most of the population was shown to be more than satisfied with the standard of services provided, particularly refuse collection. Many were dissatisfied with road gritting and safety measures. 50% felt that dog bins were needed to keep the area clean. The cutting of verges to provide clear sight lines when driving or cycling was found to be wanting.

Respondents views on the standard of service provided by the following:
Excellent Good Adequate Poor No view Grading
Refuse collection 76 53 8 3 12 619
Recycling collection 41 53 33 9 16 525
Mains electricity supply 27 68 24 1 32 480
Mains water supply 30 64 21 3 34 472
Postal service 22 31 18 6 75 294
Grass cutting, verges etc. 2 14 62 40 34 292
Ambulance 31 17 12 8 84 267



Communication between residents and the various hamlets has tended to follow traditional lines, but with the arrival of the Internet this can be improved. 67% of residents have Internet access, but, being so far from the exchange, broadband connections are very slow. 59% would be interested in faster broadband as, even in rural communities, most business is now conducted online. Despite having an Internet connection, 70% of Parishioners had not visited our community website 56% felt they received enough information, with 37% feeling that a parish newsletter was the best form of communication. It is proposed to promote our Parish website, increase the news and events content and advertise employment opportunities.



Despite the agricultural nature of the parish, there are more employment opportunities in Thornbury than would first seem to be the case. The majority of local residents are self-employed and some employ others, with seasonal demands increasing opportunities for employment. 70% of the adult population is of working age and 60% of all questionnaire respondents are gainfully employed, the majority of whom work within the Parish. The Parish website could be extended and better utilized in order to advertise and promote local employment opportunities.

Work location



The Questionnaire was divided into two sections, providing information on Crime and Safety and the importance of the church and chapel and the spiritual needs they fulfill.


The highest concern within the area was with regards to burglary, with 29% feeling vulnerable. 50% of residents felt a need for a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.

Concern was expressed for the elderly of the parish, particularly in extreme weather conditions. Co-ordinators for each Hamlet have been appointed. Every household has been given their Hamlet co-ordinator’s phone number and the map and details of Thornbury’s emergency plan are available on 53% felt the church and the chapel played an important role within the community, both on a spiritual and social level. The church was felt to be of historical and architectural interest and roused a strong desire to protect our historical heritage in many residents.

Churchgoers considered their attendance as being part of village life and a means of integration within the Parish. Chapels also were considered to be beneficial and it was generally felt that it would be preferable for these to be multi-purpose venues for social gatherings, rather than lose them altogether.


The thoughts and feelings of Thornbury’s younger population were also taken into consideration when structuring our questionnaires and a total of 24 youths between the ages of 7 and 17 responded. Most of these felt that more facilities could be provided for the young within the Parish; in particular they felt the need for a shop (83%), a pub (45%), and a Post Office (45%). A small Parish market, a Social Club and a Mobile Library were also put forward as being useful additions to current facilities, with 100% of respondents saying they would use all these facilities.

The majority study at Holsworthy Community College, travelling by means of the school buses provided and it was felt that bus shelters would be a useful addition in the light of recent inclement weather.

A surprising 71% wished to continue living in the Parish on completing their education, which will obviously impact on future housing needs. Those that wished to move away cited lack of employment opportunities and a desire to further their education elsewhere as their main reasons for wanting to move. Poor transport, general facilities, housing and low wages were also felt to be detrimental when seeking employment in the area.

62% of younger residents saw a need for more family housing within the Parish, which should be prioritised for local people. 25% believed this should be affordable housing.

Opinion was divided on the need for a Village Hall, with 50% for and 50% against. 58% of those in favour of a Village Hall felt it should be a new build, and more than 66% were against using the church or chapel as a village venue.

Our youthful population proved to be energetic, with many taking part in various sports, from swimming and gymnastics, to shooting and YFC. 33% would like these activities provided within the Parish.

A lack of public transport proved a major issue, preventing many from taking part in Parish activities. Some solved this problem by cycling around the parish and, of those who did, 79% felt safe doing so, but 55% of respondents felt there should be a more regular bus service.

The likes and dislikes section of our Youth questionnaire revealed that our younger residents feel the same about Thornbury as their parents, citing the peacefulness, friendliness and countryside location as being the main benefits. A lack of transport was tops in the dislikes section and poor broadband and mobile signals were of significant importance.

In order to move forward as a balanced community, Thornbury needs a healthy mix of all ages and if we wish to encourage our young to stay within the Parish we must clearly acknowledge these needs and address the issues of communication, transport and housing in the years to come.



Future Housing Needs At present 75% of respondents felt their housing needs were catered for. 46% of households have stated that they will have an additional housing need within the next 10 years. The Parish needs to research and develop a detailed housing needs assessment, which can then be lodged with Torridge District Council to inform them on planning considerations that reflect the views and needs of the community. Thornbury Parish Council


Torridge District Council






The speed of traffic



Safe Cycling




Problem locations







Road Maintenance


60% of people felt there was no problem.



Only 14% of people felt cycling in the parish was unsafe.


Only 27% of people felt there were any problem locations. Of the number identified, the majority stated Woodacott Cross



57% felt markings and signage needed to improve. A high 87% felt that roads were not well maintained and 49% expressed a willingness to assist with road gritting.


57% relied on others for transportation with 33% expressing interest in developing a car share scheme.







Local Working Group to be formed to take issues forward with the Highways Agency









Money has already been made available for the purchase of two gritting bins. Holsworthy Community Transport is to be invited to a consultation meeting to promote its services within the community and to advertise on website









Highways Agency


Parishioners taking part in working group


Holsworthy Community Transport



Community Venue 70% of people believe the parish needs a community venue, with the majority favouring a new build. The majority stated they would use this venue, with 60% stating that they already attended Parish events. A working group needs to be formed to take this issue forward and to define:


1.      Finance

2.      Location

3.      Design

4.     Use and sustainability


Parishioners to form working group


Parish Council


Village Hall Committee



Sustainable Energy







Provision of Dog Bins





Service Provision

77% believe the parish should make itself available for sustainable energy projects.




50% felt Dog Bins were needed.




The highest satisfaction levels were recorded for refuse collection and recycling, the lowest for road gritting.

Working group to be formed to ascertain how best the parish can be used for sustainable energy projects.




Volunteer to take this forward.




Steering Group to write to each service provider advising them of their score together with examples.

Parish working group.








Environmental Service Departments of Torridge District Council and Devon County Council.


Parish Plan Steering Committee



Internet Access






Parish Website

67% of residents have internet access, but 59% would be interested in faster broadband.



70% have not visited 56% felt they received enough information, with 37% feeling that a Parish Newsletter was the best method of communication.

Connecting Devon and Somerset to procure contracts to supply superfast broadband








Local coordinator to be identified and a small working group set up to increase relevancy and use of parish website as a local reference point.


Identify volunteers who would be willing to collect and collate information and distribute newsletters.

Parishioners to register interest at








Local Project Leaders

and supporters



Local Employment 70% of the population are of working age and 60% of respondents are employed Identify local businesses and employment opportunities and promote and advertise local jobs on Parish website  


Local Project Leader



Crime and Safety












Importance of Church/Chapel

The highest concern was burglary at 29%. 50% agreed a need for a neighbourhood watch scheme. Concern was expressed for the elderly in extreme weather conditions.






53% felt that these were important, both personally and for the community.

Volunteers to be identified to set up a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.


Request more visible police presence/contact within the village.


A snow warden has already been identified and will shortly receive training.









Local Project Leader and supporters



The results of the Questionnaire reveal a strong desire within the community to maintain the integrity of the Parish, both in terms of its character and inherent beauty. Whilst the need to move forward with the times in terms of communication, housing and employment was recognized, it is clear that this rural community does not want or need major changes, just nips and tucks to the existing infrastructure, in order to preserve the landscape character. Any future housing must be considered in the light of this topography, with the preservation of hedgerows, green fields, rivers, streams and wildlife being a major consideration.

The essence of Thornbury was summed up in the likes and dislikes section of the Questionnaire, with the majority appreciating its beauty, its peacefulness and its strong sense of community. Many mourned the lack of a Public House as a meeting place and source of recreation and relaxation, and this may well prove to be something for future consideration. The passing of the Post Office, the Village Store and other bygone ports of call that served the community well were also cause for reflection, but with such a small and scattered community parishioners would have to think long and hard as to whether we could make these things work in the future, particularly in the light of new shopping and housing developments in Holsworthy.

These minor considerations notwithstanding, the majority of the population felt that Thornbury was a pleasant and rewarding place to live and that we must preserve its essence in the years to come by developing as a balanced community, with care and consideration for our historical heritage, our present community and our future needs.


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