The classification of waterbodies under the Water Framework Directive is dependent on the ability of monitoring programmes to reflect habitat quality using biotic elements including benthic diatom communities. This study investigated the influence of specific riparian habitats, of mixed woodland, grassland and lake artificial structures such as jetties and slipways, on benthic diatom assemblages in nine lakes across gradients of total phosphorus, alkalinity and in the presence or absence of Dreissena polymorpha. The heterogeneity of the benthic diatom assemblages at riparian and lake scale was assessed by taking three replicates per site category per lake, following standard European Union protocols. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) and mixed effect modelling was used to investigate the main environmental controls on assemblage structure. Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling (NMDS) was used to examine patterns in assemblage structure. No single environmental gradient was found to control benthic diatom composition, with differences among assemblages influenced both by riparian habitat type within lakes and interaction of multiple environment gradients, including presence of D. polymorpha. Greater control was exerted on community structure at the lake than local riparian scale. The influence of scalar factors on diatom assemblages increased with increasing scale. We recommend that for effective monitoring and assessment of ecological status, standard sampling protocols should include localised littoral habitats with individual samples pooled across riparian habitat types, thereby accounting for both multiple environmental and spatial controls on community structure.