Council in Kent calls planning application ‘whack’ in bizarre admin blunder

Council leader ‘extremely frustrated’ by the mistake

Rory Sullivan
Wednesday 08 September 2021 21:46
<p>Founder Amey James, with cockerels, at The Happy Pants Ranch animal sanctuary at Bobbing</p>

Founder Amey James, with cockerels, at The Happy Pants Ranch animal sanctuary at Bobbing

An animal sanctuary in Kent has had its planning application rejected and called “whack” in a bizarre administrative mistake by the local council.

The error occurred in mid-August when officers from Mid Kent Planning Support, which runs the service for Swale Borough Council, ran a dummy trial to fix a software issue.

During this process, five decision notices were inadvertently sent to applicants, including Amey James, the founder of The Happy Pants Ranch animal sanctuary.

She was told that her plea to keep her charity at its site in Bobbing, near Sittingbourne, had been rejected. By way of explanation, the council’s official comments said “your proposal is whack” and “no mate, proper whack”.

Commenting on the incident, Ms James told The Independent: “I went through a range of emotions when I first saw the planning refusal; panic, upset, devastation.

“Of course I felt relieved to know it was an error, but I am disappointed that now the charity has to wait another three or four months before it gets the decision on whether or not the sanctuary can stay,” she said, adding that her proposal was supposed to be considered this month.

Other requests were met with similarly sarcastic responses, with a pub in Sittingbourne given the green light for partial demolition with the words “incy, wincy, spider”.

In a statement, council leader Roger Truelove apologised to the people who were affected, saying he was “extremely frustrated” by the event. An investigation into the incident has been launched.

To make matters worse, the council cannot easily cancel the bogus planning decisions.

“Although the notice of decision has been produced in this bizarre way, the decisions can only be overturned by our applying for a judicial review of these decisions. We have already initiated this process,” Mr Truelove explained.

It is understood that fixing the decision will cost thousands of pounds.

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