Planning in the Lenham area

Important information for planning applications in and around Lenham and part of Boughton Malherbe Parish

In July 2020, Natural England issued water quality advice that will have an immediate impact on planning applications for new homes in and around both Lenham and part of Boughton Malherbe Parishes. The source of the river system of the Stour Valley river catchment is in Lenham with part of the upper section of the Great Stour being in Maidstone Borough.

New water quality advice from Natural England

Natural England has said that an appropriate assessment must be carried out before we can agree any new housing development or any other type of development likely to have a significant adverse impact on water quality in the River Stour Catchment. This assessment must include any necessary mitigation measures. This is to ensure that new residential development does not cause any further deterioration of water quality at Stodmarsh in terms of nitrate and phosphate discharges.

The Stodmarsh Nature Reserve is protected under European Law and is managed by Natural England. Natural England has identified that the water quality in the lakes has deteriorated. The water quality targets have also recently been tightened.

You can download the full advice note from Natural England:

The Stour Operational Catchment set out in the new water quality advice

The advice applies to the Stour Valley river catchment area (see Appendix 1 of the Natural England advice), which covers this eastern area of the Borough principally much of Lenham and part of Boughton Malherbe Parishes.

It also applies to developments outside of the Stour Valley river catchment area, including those which would connect (directly or indirectly) to a Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) which discharges into the Stour Valley. This includes Lenham WWTW.

What you need to do

We are currently investigating possible solutions and have identified a way forward for larger housing sites. We will keep you updated on progress. However, MBC will be taking a precautionary approach and will require appropriate assessments for any planning applications including those not yet determined.

If you have a planning application currently under consideration you should:

  • first read the advice from Natural England
  • then speak with the Planning case officer to discuss any suggested mitigation

If you are thinking of submitting a planning application, you can:

  • ask Natural England for advice using their paid pre-application advice service
  • use our Council pre-planning application advice service