I don't know if the draughtsman said "the planning officer says he is quite happy with the plans and will be recommending approval" or "the planning officer says the plans will be approved" or even "the planning officer says the plans are approved"
The first alternative is more usual. The others are wrong.
I didn't hear the conversation or read the letter. Did you?
Planning officers are always saying 'yeah, can't see any issues - you should get an approval on this one no problem'. On my own house the guy stood in my garden and told me it was ok and he would push it through quickly for me - only to get a refusal. (Which I overturned on appeal) But I know full well that you can't take anything a planning officer says as concrete until you get that approval letter. And I always strongly advise clients not to start work until approval is secure - on account of starting work before it's settled tends to **** them off. So it sounds to me like your advisors are idiots.
The neighbours are related to our areas 2 local councilors, so instead of the councilors coming and talking to us first, the asked the councilors to go directly to the head planning officer to get the planning rejected.