LENHAM NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN UPDATE
The independent examination of the Maidstone Local Plan interim findings has now been made public and formally published by Robert Mellor the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The report is available on both the Lenham Parish Council web-site lenhamparish.org.uk and maidstone.gov.uk. The full document can be found as a pdf. ED110 20161222 Interim Findings on Maidstone Borough Council Local Plan. The report pages specific to Lenham are 21 to 24. The submitted Local Plan proposed Lenham as a Broad Location to deliver 1,500 dwellings between 2026 and the end of the plan period in 2031 at a rate of 300 per annum. Such a rate of construction is improbable; therefore, the delivery date will be from 2021.
Deducting the existing permissions at Ham Lane and the Old Goods Yard (south of the railway) would mean allocating sites for a further 1,350 dwellings. The Inspector recommends the allocation be reduced to 1,000 dwellings over a ten-year period at a rate of 100 per annum between 2021 and 2031.
The protection of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which borders the north side of the village is an important consideration when investigating site options. The NHP team have an opportunity to determine what sites should be allocated. Areas south of the railway, previously opposed by MBC can now be included in the scope. It is vital the NHP team work to identify the allocation of suitable sites, if not, it would fall to a review of the Local Plan to do so. The NHP team will use the findings of the report as a template to align the Lenham Neighbourhood Plan with the MBC Local Plan and the Inspector’s recommendations.
Moving forward, with a proactive approach and a coordinated relationship, meetings will be organised by NHP team members with MBC Planning officers. Changes will need to be made to the plan and public consultations will offer an opportunity for parishioners to study the reasons for the changes and make their views known.
We will endeavour to keep residents informed of progress. The parish council have agreed to continue funding this initiative and working with the team to finalise the plan in a timely manner. Cllr. Cockett applied and successfully received a grant of £9000 towards the cost of engaging a consultant to take the plan forward.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the NHP team who have worked extremely hard to produce a professional draft plan which is a strong building block to the final edition. Thank you also to the parishioners who have supported us in the past, we may be calling for your help and continued support soon!
A unilateral undertaking between the Lenham Parish Council and Lightsource, (the company responsible for the installation of the Sandway solar farm) provided the panels at no cost to the parish, which were installed at the Community Centre.
A joint initiative to fund the installation costs between the LPC, A & A Barr Farms, and the Community Centre trustees, ensured the project was completed. An agreement was entered that the amount received from the feed in tariff would be divided equally between the Lenham Community Centre, St Edmunds Hall at Platts Heath and the Memorial Hall at Lenham Heath. We are pleased to report that the amount received from 1st January 2016 to 31st December 2016 exceeded three thousand pounds, the Community Centre was repaid two thousand pounds (their initial investment) the remainder being divided equally between the three halls. The agreement is for twenty years, (the expected life span of the panels) so the halls can rely on payments being made quarterly to help with the running costs of providing vital community social assets. Thank you to the Community Centre trustees who have taken the responsibility of the daily running and maintenance of the installation.
The ongoing projects to enhance the facilities in and around the square is gaining pace. The new finger posts will be installed mid-January and the site in the High Street for a new large litter bin agreed. Thank you to County Councillor Jenny Whittle who organised the funding from her Members Grant allocation for the post and bin and to Cllr. Scrivens for overseeing the project.
The village handyman will be refurbishing the bus stop opposite the church, the roof will need minor repair, if any local roof tilers could sponsor the work, it would be appreciated. The varnishing of the benches in the square and at the Glebe pond along with the small fence at the pond will be repaired and the information map replaced. A local tree surgeon will pollard the Lime trees in early February.
The village sign at the Maidstone Road triangle and the sign at the Old Ashford Road triangle, will be removed for repainting. The sign posts will be treated along with the raised flower bed units. It is hoped the repainting of the sign can be undertaken by a local artist.
PARISH COUNCIL LOGO
Cllr. Smith-Essex provided several choices of logo, the chosen design will be used as letter heading and on the web site. The new public signage in the car park and play parks will also use the logo. Other designs submitted by parishioners will be used on the Lenham tourism web-site currently being progressed by Cllr. Nye.
Cllr. Walmsley was nominated at the January parish council meeting to become the Vice Chairman, he will serve on both the Planning and Finance and General Purposes Committee. The Chairman Cllr. Greenwood is grateful for the support a Vice Chairman can offer the council, at what is a very busy time for members.
We are pleased to welcome back to the parish PCSO Dave Rowley who with Community Warden Martin Sherwood will be our local point of contact. Thank you to PCSO John Boyd who previously supported the parish council.
The tea towel depicting the favourite places in Lenham designed from drawings produced by local children, who attended the Neighbourhood Plan public consultation day in October 2015, has proved extremely popular and can be purchased from the Village Store or Len Valley Newsagent. All the children were thanked for their excellent work and presented with a tea towel; only one child could not be contacted, Mathew, when aged six, drew a picture of the play park and we used his drawing of the slide, on the tea towel. If you know who Mathew is or how we can contact him to make sure he receives his tea towel, please let the Clerk know.
We are pleased to be able to replace the dog bins recently removed by Maidstone Borough Council. The parish council will take responsibility for the bins throughout the parish. Seven bins were removed and only one comingled bin installed at Ham Lane by the borough council. The Clerk negotiated ten bins for the parish at no cost, we will reinstall the bins and the extra bins will be placed in Sandway, Platts Heath and Lenham Heath, subject to finding suitable positions. Thank you to the parishioner who kindly collected the bins from Maidstone. The bins will be emptied weekly, some dog owners have offered to make a small donation to the initial expense of providing posts and installation costs. If you would like to contribute towards these unexpected costs we would appreciate your donation. Please contact the Clerk.
Margo McFarlane 01622 859682 (Mon – Friday 9am to 1pm) firstname.lastname@example.org