Senior Government officials expected planners to recommend refusal for the proposed private sector visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.
The revelation will fuel speculation about the extent to which DUP Environment Minister Arlene Foster followed Planning Service advice on the controversial Causeway scheme.
Mrs Foster last week announced that she was "minded" to grant developer Seymour Sweeney approval for a new visitor centre close to the famous tourist attraction.
The Department of the Environment has so far refused to disclose what Planning Service advised the Minister to do in the case - or whether she overruled any of its recommendations.
An internal Government memo obtained by this newspaper has now added to the intrigue.
The document was written in April by a senior Department of Enterprise (DETI) civil servant closely involved in plans for a publicly-fundeed visitor centre. The recipient was DETI's permanent secretary Stephen Quinn.
Referring to the current position regarding Mr Sweeney's Causeway planning application, the memo stated: "A recommendation to decline the application is expected to go to the Planning Service Management Board this week.
"It will be a matter for the Management Board to decide what action is taken next."
The DoE is remaining tight-lipped about the recommendations that came from planning officials who handled the Sweeney file, or from the Planning Service Management Board which also considered the application.
DUP Enterprise Minister Nigel Dodds last week shelved his Department's public sector visitor centre plan, in light of Mrs Foster's views on the Sweeney proposal.
Mr Dodds is due to face questions today on his decision from the Assembly's Enterprise Committee, which is chaired by SDLP leader Mark Durkan.
The two organisations involved in the DETI scheme - the National Trust and Moyle Council - will also give evidence to the committee.
They have both underlined their opposition to the Sweeney plan.