Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Louise McLornan, Democratic Services Officer  028 9032 0202 ext 6077

No. Item




Apologies were reported from Councillors McKeown and O’Hara.



Declarations of Interest


            No declarations of interest were recorded.



Proposed changes to the fees for Property Certificates pdf icon PDF 93 KB


The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


            The purpose of the report is to seek the Committee’s agreement to increasing the fee charged for a Regional Property Certificate and to review the fee charged for Council Property Certificates.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Agree to a revised fee structure for Regional Property Certificates;

·        Note the knock on administrative arrangements;

·        Agree to a review of the fee charged for the Council property certificates to take account of inflationary rises.


3.0       Main report


3.1      Background


            There are two Property Certificate services assisting the conveyancing process in NI. The Council Property Certificate (CPC) service is provided by individual councils and gathers information from internal council services in response to a property enquiry from a solicitor usually acting on behalf of a vendor. In 2018-19 the CPC service generated approximately £395k for Belfast City Council (BCC).


3.2       In April 2015, as an outcome of Local Government Reform, the Regional Property Certificate (RPC) service was transferred from the then Department of Environment to councils and by agreement was set up as a shared service operated by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC).


3.3       The RPC provides information on a property or land relating to inter alia Planning Service, Roads Service, Water Service, Built and Natural Heritage and Rivers Agency, in response to a request from a solicitor usually acting on behalf of a vendee. In 2017-18 the RPC generated a fee income for BCC of approximately £253k.  This income is returned to BCC by FODC on a 6 monthly basis.


3.4       Key Issues


            Following a detailed review by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the VAT treatment of the fee income for a Regional Property Certificate (RPC), which included lengthy correspondence and significant challenge by local government and its VAT and legal advisors, HMRC has decided from 1 July 2019 the RPC fee income is liable to VAT (20%).


3.5       Consequently, and because the fee income for an RPC has not increased since 1 April 2014, FODC has proposed that the fee for a single property Certificate is increased from £42.50 to £60 with corresponding increases for additional enquiries. This increase takes account of VAT payable, inflation between April 2014 and 2019, and additional administrative costs due to VAT. (See Point 3.6 below). A detailed breakdown of the increase is provided in Appendix A.


3.6       Subject to the approval of the revised fee it will be necessary to update and agree the Service Level Agreement with FODC. Additionally, to allow each council to properly account for VAT to HMRC, FODC will return the fee income to BCC on a monthly basis. 


3.7       As the fee for the CPC has not been increased since 2004, to take account of inflationary changes, it is also proposed that the fee charged for the CPC is also increased.  This would be agreed consultation with the other councils.

3.8       Financial  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Planning Applications


LA04/2018/0811/O - Mixed use development comprising offices, residential apartments (including affordable), hotel and serviced apartments, retail and professional services, community and cultural, leisure uses, cafes, bars, restaurants, with associated car parking, circulation and servicing arrangements; public realm works, landscaping, replacement of existing pedestrian bridge fixed to railway bridge and associated access works to Short Strand and Bridge End with other infrastructural works, and demolition of existing structures including boundary walls on lands at former Sirocco Works, Short Strand and adjacent to Bridge End and the River Lagan pdf icon PDF 7 MB


            The Planning Manager (Development Management) reminded the Committee that a site visit to the former Sirocco works and the surrounding area had taken place on 31st May.


            He drew the Committee’s attention to the Late Items Pack, where a response from the Council’s City Regeneration and Development team had been received.  He outlined the Planning Department’s response to the issues raised.  He also explained that further consultation responses had been received from statutory agencies and that no objections had been received from NI Water, Environmental Health or from DfI Roads, subject to conditions and informatives.


            The case officer presented the detail of the outline major planning application for the mixed-use development on the site.  He explained that the means of access to the site was to be determined and that the proposals included a replacement pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Lagan to the south.


            The case officer explained that the key issues in the assessment of the proposal included, amongst others, the principle of the proposal at the location, environmental impacts, economic development, layout, scale, massing, the impact on amenity and on natural and built heritage assets, the impact of the proposed development on transport and infrastructure and flooding and drainage impacts.


            He outlined the planning history of the site, which had been cleared since 1999.  He explained that, in March 2011, under Z/2008/0599/O, a mixed use redevelopment of the site had been granted permission.  The Committee was advised that it had been subject to a ten year time condition and was therefore extant.


            The Committee was reminded that, in August 2018, it had granted approval to a full application for Block C, for the erection of a thirteen storey Grade A office building on the site, including deck and basement parking, ground floor café/bar/restaurant uses, a temporary pocket park and a pedestrian and cycle access route from Bridge End.  The case officer explained that the application site formed part of the outline application site and was to be approved following resolution of outstanding issues by the applicant and the completion of a Section 76 Planning Agreement.


            The case officer advised the Members that the site was located outside of the City Centre in the Belfast Urban Area Plan (BUAP).  He explained that it fell within the City Centre boundary in both versions of draft BMAP, where the uses proposed by the outline application were broadly acceptable.  The City Solicitor clarified the planning status of draft BMAP 2015 and explained that, while it had been quashed, substantial weight should be given to it given the advanced stage it had reached.  The case officer added that significant weight should also be given to the extant permission for redevelopment for the majority of the uses proposed in the outline application and also towards the full application for office development on a portion of the site which the Committee had resolved to approve.


            The Committee was advised that the application was supported by a Concept Masterplan and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4a