20 / 03 / 20
The draft Lenham Neighbourhood Plan (LNP) went out for public consultation on 14th February 2020 for a period of 6 weeks. Neighbourhood Plans allow communities to influence the planning of their localities in which they live and work. They are powerful planning documents that allow communities to develop a shared vision for our village, choose where new homes, shops, offices and other amenities are built, and identify and protect important local green spaces.
As part of the public consultation for the LNP, Lenham Parish Council ran a series of neighbourhood events to give residents a chance to see the proposals and discuss any concerns or ideas they might have. The Parish Council kindly invited representatives from SOHL along to these events so we could update residents on the Council’s proposals for a 5,000 home garden community east of Lenham. It is important to note that the LNP does not make provision for this proposed garden community. The Parish Council are clear that Lenham is doing it’s civic duty in accommodating over 1,000 new homes over the next 10 years on six strategic housing sites across the village. This almost doubles the size of the village and that is enough.
An important policy in the LNP is Policy 6.1 – Protection for the Countryside and the Rural Settlements. We are pleased the Parish Council have recognised the importance of the hamlets of the parish such as Sandway, Platts Heath, Lenham Forstal, Lenham Heath, West Street and Woodside Green. They also recognise the importance of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and protecting clear lines of site from around the parish. At the consultation events we spoke to many residents who were in strong support of this policy.
Whilst SOHL support this policy too, we believe it can be strengthened to include a clear set of criteria new development can be assessed against. We are therefore proposing a replacement for Policy CP1 as drafted on the right.
We need local residents to support this strengthening of countryside protection policy and ask you to respond to the consultation to this effect.
A letter template has been created for you to use to easily respond to the consultation either by post or by email.
Emails need to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 27th March.
Letters need to be posted to the following address to reach the Council by Friday 27th March.
Maidstone Borough Council
More detail on the LNP consultation is available at the Maidstone Council website here along with access to the Plan’s accompanying documents.
Current working for Policy CP1 – Countryside Protection
The Lenham Local Policies Map showsthe settlement boundary for Lenham which is extended to include the Strategic Housing Delivery Sites. Proposals for new development in the countryside beyond the extended settlement boundary, where they are in accordance with the countryside constraint policies set out in the Maidstone Borough Local Plan, will be assessed in terms of the potential impact of the development upon the visual setting and landscape features of the site and its surrounds, the potential impact upon the biodiversity of the area and the development plan policies of Maidstone Borough Council. Proposals which fail to demonstrate these impacts can be satisfactorily addressed will not be supported.
Suggested new wording as proposed by SOHL
Suggested new Paragraph 6.9.3
6.9.3 One of the particular distinctive characteristics of Lenham Parish is the existence of relatively isolated rural settlements such as Sandway, Platts Heath, Lenham Forstal, Lenham Heath, West Street and Woodside Green. There is a strong relationship between the built elements of Lenham Parish, the village, the hamlets and the other settlements and their wider landscape setting. At various points across the Parish, there are clear lines of sight of the AONB, open countryside and back again from open countryside towards the built form. This experience is enhanced in several elevated locations in the Parish. This locally distinctive context provides a sense of identity and particular character. The particular landscape sensitivity of the Parish is objectively assessed in the ‘Maidstone Landscape Capacity Study: Sensitivity Assessment’ (January 2015) produced by Jacobs for Maidstone Borough Council.
Suggested replacement for Policy CP1: Countryside Protection
Protection for the Countryside and the Rural Settlements: Policy CP1
The Lenham Local Policies Map shows the settlement boundary for Lenham village which is extended to include the Strategic Housing Delivery Sites. Proposals for new development in the countryside beyond the extended settlement boundary will be assessed in terms of:
1) the potential visual impact of the development;
2) the landscape character effects on the site and its surroundings;
3) the potential impact on the biodiversity of the area;
4) the capacity of infrastructure and services available to serve the proposal; and
5) how the proposal relates to the setting of the isolated rural settlements.
Development proposals should seek to protect and enhance the environment of the Parish with particular emphasis on avoiding harmful impacts on the hamlets and other rural settlements. Proposals which fail to demonstrate that these impacts can be satisfactorily addressed will not be supported.