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Villagers in Lenham, in Maidstone, launch fight against plans for more than 1,7000 new homes.

By Ed McConnell

Having just celebrated 100 years of life in Lenham, residents could be about to embark on their biggest fight yet.

Many fear the historic village is under threat from a proposal to build 1,745 new homes.

An online campaign has been launched to halt the expansion, which is predicted to bring 3,750 people into the area and would almost triple the population.

Lenham is a "jewel in the crown", say campaigners against the housing plans.

High Street resident and founder of the Save Lenham campaign Mike Cockett said: “We’ve generated great support since we started two weeks ago.

“Our message is that if the full proposals get the go-ahead they would destroy Lenham as a jewel in the crown of Kentish villages.

“The village is unique as we have maintained a thriving commercial centre alongside the historical centre and the plans threaten this.”

The proposals come as part of Maidstone Borough Council’s Local Plan to build 19,600 new homes by 2031. It includes building 245 homes in Lenham within the next few years and a further 1,500 in unspecified parts of the village.

Faversham and Mid Kent MP Hugh Robertson earlier warned the Local Plan focused disproportionately on villages near areas of outstanding natural beauty, such as Lenham.

Faversham's MP Hugh Robertson

It, along with Harrietsham, has been earmarked for development due to strong infrastructure and transport links.

However, people in Lenham say the doctor’s surgery is already stretched, and the primary school and roads will not be able to cope.

Resident and author Amy Myers, who has recently published a book entitled Lenham and the Great War, said: “The plans will suffocate Lenham and change it completely.

“It is too much too soon and although changes obviously have to happen they have to be managed better.”

Opponents say Lenham's mix of commercial and historic buildings would be at risk if 1,745 new homes are built.

The parish council chaired a meeting at the village’s community centre on Wednesday to formulate an action plan.

A borough council spokesman said: “We are considering all the comments received on the draft Local Plan and will consult again next spring.

“The council’s aim is to meet the needs of our residents over the next 20 years whilst protecting our much valued landscapes.”

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