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Northern Ireland colleges and universities hit by rates hike


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BMC (Belfast Metropolitan College) buildings, formally know as B.I.F.H.E (Belfast Institute for Further & Higher Education). Pictured BMC's Millfield building. Picture date Saturday 19th April 2008. Pictures by Liam McBurney

BMC (Belfast Metropolitan College) buildings, formally know as B.I.F.H.E (Belfast Institute for Further & Higher Education). Pictured BMC's Millfield building. Picture date Saturday 19th April 2008. Pictures by Liam McBurney

BMC (Belfast Metropolitan College) buildings, formally know as B.I.F.H.E (Belfast Institute for Further & Higher Education). Pictured BMC's Millfield building. Picture date Saturday 19th April 2008. Pictures by Liam McBurney

Colleges and university campuses are facing higher rates than luxury hotels, supermarkets and football stadiums, Sunday Life can reveal.

The potential increase in their annual bills may also hit Stormont's education budget, according to a department spokesperson.

It comes after the Department of Finance's "rebalance" of non-domestic rates, which was revealed last month.

Educational establishments now join pubs as being among the properties taking the biggest hit under the "Reval 2020" review.

One college in Co Tyrone has seen its rateable value increase by over 54%, while another in Londonderry is estimated at being worth nearly £800,000 per year.

By comparison, the new rateable value for the National Stadium at Windsor Park is £585,000, while both Cliftonville and Glentoran have seen their estimates go down.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education told Sunday Life: "The department is currently assessing the impact of the revaluation process which will potentially create an additional resource pressure on the Education Authority's (EA's) budget. This is because, where there is a liability, the EA is responsible for paying the rates bills for the education estate.

"We are seeking to see what measures can be explored to deal with the issue of the problems created by the rates revaluation."

Though the newly released figures are estimates ahead of finalised bills in March, they are a close guide. The new rates system has been changed so it "reflects local economic changes and makes the system fairer by redistributing rate liability fairly across all sectors in line with changes in market rental values", says the Department of Finance.

Lisburn's South East Regional College faces one of the biggest increases in rateable value, having gone up 54.6% to £656,500.

The North West Regional College In Londonderry has been assessed at £788,500 per year, up 33.4%.

But the value of the Tesco store at Lisnagelvin in the city has gone down by 7.8% to £575,500 per year.

The Belfast Metropolitan College site at Millfield in the city centre is up by 41.9% to £679,000, while the Castlereagh campus in the east of the city is up by 47.69% to £399,000.

The Hilton Hotel beside the Waterfront Hall is up by just over 7% to £455,000.

The Ulster University campus in Coleraine has one of the highest rateable values, up by over seven per cent to £1,913,000.

Its campus in Belfast city centre, known as the Art College, has been put at a new value of £891,500, an increase of 22.8%.

In Newtownabbey, Northern Regional College is up 48% to £674,500 while Omagh's South West Regional College is £582,000, up 50.5%. The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise at Greenmount in Co Antrim is up 28.5% to £604,000.

Even the Education Authority HQ near St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast is going up in value to £352,000 per year.

Other institutions to see a big rise include Northern Ireland's jails.

HMP Maghaberry is estimated at £3.6m, up 44%, while Magilligan outside Derry is up by 15.2% to £765,000.

Hydebank Wood College and Young Offenders Centre, Belfast, is up 6.4% to £979,000.

A Land and Property Services (LPS) spokesperson told this newspaper: "LPS is required by legislation to assess a Net Annual Value (NAV) for every property in the Valuation List.

"The Valuation List indicates whether a school, or any other property, is exempt from rates."

  • Ulster University, Coleraine: £1,913,000, up 7%
  • Queen's University Belfast: £951,000, up 11.9%
  • Ulster University, Belfast: £891,500, up 22.8%
  • North West Regional College, Londonderry £788,500, up 33.4%
  • Belfast Metropolitan College, Millfield campus £679,000, up 41.9%
  • Northern Regional College, Newtownabbey £674,500, up 48%
  • South East Regional College, Lisburn £656,500, up 54.6%
  • College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Antrim £604,000, up 28.5%
  • South West Regional College, Omagh £582,000, up 50.5%

Belfast Telegraph