The Parish Council of Cowling is a civil local authority and the first tier of local government (Craven District Council is the second tier and North Yorkshire County Council is the third tier). The Parish Council is an elected corporate body, with 9 volunteer Councillors.
The Council employs a Clerk & Responsible Financial Officer and a Lengthsman.
Cowling was originally part of the large Kildwick parish. It lay within three manors of ‘Collinghead’, ‘Stott Hill and ‘Ickornshaw’. Traditionally Cowling was an agricultural area centred on the northern part of the current parish and with sparse residences.
Later the area developed an industrial settlement on the south side of the ‘Colling’ valley. This led to an increase in population concentrated around the new mills constructed along the ‘new’ road; now the A6068.
Since WW2 fifteen housing estates have been built, which include Collinge Road, Wainman’s Close/ Bannister Walk, Springwell Close, Mill Croft, Royd Court, Laycock Fields, Acre Meadow, Acre Mill, Carr Mill and Carr Mill Mews, Old Sawmills, Earl Crag View, Manor Park, Craven Court and Pinnacle View.
The substantial part of the village now forms a mile-long linear settlement along the A6068.