An investigation is underway after a Kent council mistakenly rejected planning applications with sarcastic comments, such as “Your proposal is whack”.
Action may now be taken against council officers at Swale Borough Council after workers thought they were testing a dummy website, when they were really rejecting and approving real planning applications. The decisions made in August are legally binding.
Five applications for Swale Borough Council were affected, and a sixth from Maidstone was rejected with the reasons "Don't even bother re-applying lol" and "not even joking lmao".
Two applications to demolish separate pubs were both approved, with the responses "why am I doing this am I the chosen one" and "incy wincy spider".
People applying for planning permission have enough to worry about without bogus planning decisions, and it could now take up to three months to have the decisions quashed.
An application for a judicial review of the decisions will be required to overturn them, a process which the council says it has already initiated. It is understood that fixing the decisions will cost the council thousands of pounds.
In a statement, council leader Roger Truelove said he was “extremely frustrated” by the incident, and apologised to the applicants affected.
Mr Truelove added: "We will wait for the outcome of a proper investigation and then consider our appropriate response as a council."
A statement from the local authority added: "In addition to the incorrect decisions, some of the dummy text used to test the software was not appropriate for publication, including derogatory comments about the quality of the applications.
"This language was used by a junior officer with no knowledge of any of the applications, who believed they were working solely in a test environment and that the comments would never be published."
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Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms.
He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.