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Rates chiefs plan to bill north Belfast car boot site

Rates chiefs have added a car park at Hillview Retail Park to its Valuation List
Connla Young

RATES chiefs have said they intend to start billing for a car park in north Belfast which hosts a weekly market and car boot sale.

The decision came after Land and Property Services (LPS) ordered an investigation into the car park at Hillview Retail Park under its whistle blowing policy.

Earlier this year councillors in Belfast approved plans for the Hillview site to be developed despite calls for social housing to be built in the area.

The site is home to a weekly market and car boot sale which Belfast City Council last night said has no authority to operate.

The council also said it is unable to identify those behind the market.

Earlier this year the Irish News revealed that the development site has received around £1.8 million in rates relief over the last 10 years after figures were obtained by campaign group Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR).

The recent LPS probe follows recent “investigatory work” carried out by the Northern Ireland Audit Office regarding concerns raised about rates relief at Hillview Retail Park.

In a recent letter to campaign group PPR the audit office said it found that units on the site “are being utilised” and “work undertaken appears to be commensurate with charitable objectives eligible for the charitable rating exemption”.

A further investigation was then launched by LPS into the car park, which has recently been added to the LPS “valuation list”.

The LPS falls under the control of the Department of Finance.

A department spokeswoman last night said: “Land and Property Services is in the process of determining the person or persons with beneficial occupation of the car boot sale area/market rights, that have been valued.”

It is understood that if established the “person or persons with beneficial occupation” of the car park will be billed.

Dessie Donnelly from PPR welcomed the development adding: “We trust that LPS will pursue the matter with rigour.”

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