|>>|| No. 35238
>Officials have been left red faced after a junior staff member was unwittingly let loose on approving and rejecting planning notices, with one applicant, a charity boss, told their scheme was turned down because: “Your proposal is whack”.
>The blunder came about when the Mid Kent Planning Support team, which handles the online submissions on behalf of Swale council, was trying to resolve software issues. In doing so, five ‘dummy’ decisions, used to test the website was working, were accidentally published.
>Among them was the sarcastic refusal to a desperate bid by Happy Pants animal sanctuary to stay on its site in Bobbing, near Sittingbourne. The charity received the response “your proposal is whack” and “no mate, proper whack”. Making good the mistaken planning decisions is now set to cost £8,000.
>Terry Rowse butchers’ change of use to a takeaway in Chaucer Road, Sittingbourne, was also turned down, with the official comments reading simply “no”, and “just don’t”, while the partial demolition of The Wheatsheaf pub in East Street, Sittingbourne, was granted, with the response “incy, wincy, spider”.
>Meanwhile, an application for the change of use for a barn to provide storage for seeds and crop protection products, precision farm services and office space in Bredgar Road, Tunstall, was granted, as was the fifth application, for the demolition of the Old House At Home pub in Sheerness High Street, to make way for flats. The latter's comment was “why am I doing this, am I the chosen one?”
>Swale council is now seeking to quash the planning decisions issued in error. It said that, on August 19, officers for the Mid Kent Planning Support team were trying to find a solution for issues with the software behind the public access site but, during the exercise, ‘dummy’ decision notices on five randomly selected Swale applications were published on the live system. After being alerted to the mistake, the decision notices were swiftly removed from the site, but legal advice has subsequently confirmed they are legally binding and must be overturned before the correct decisions are made.