A local council in Kent was left red-faced and out of pocket after a junior worker testing website problems sent out legally binding planning decisions by mistake.
According to reports in Kent Online, 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.
Five ‘dummy’ decisions, used to test the website was working, were sent out and accidentally published on the site, resulting in them becoming ‘real’ decisions.
Among them was a 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’s leader, Cllr Roger Truelove, and deputy leader, Cllr Mike Baldock, said they were angered and frustrated that an administrative error by staff working in the Mid Kent shared planning service had led to the issuing of false planning decision notices.
They said: “These errors will have to be rectified but this will cause totally unnecessary concern to applicants.
“This is not the first serious problem following the transfer of our planning administration to Mid Kent shared services.
“We will wait for the outcome of a proper investigation and then consider our appropriate response as a council.”