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No platform for station levy refunds

Thursday, 12th January, 2017 1:01am

Up to €40 million in refunds has been requested for people who built near a planned train station near Blackpool.

The brakes were permanently applied to the development of Kilbarry Train Station several months ago. It was due to be part of the extended Cork Suburban Rail Project after Irish Rail first applied for planning permission in 2008 for the station at Kilbarry, near Blackpool.

At Monday’s meeting of Cork City Council, it emerged from city officials that there will be no refunds given to people in the Kilbarry/Blackpool area who have paid a levy to a scheme that funds the Cork Suburban Rail Project.

Local councillor, Ken O’Flynn (Fianna Fáil) said that if a person decides to build in the Blackpool area, whether it’s an extension to a house, a shopping centre or business units, a levy is paid to Cork City Council on planning applications.

“Up as far as last month I saw a planning application where there was a charge of almost €8,000 on a premises being built in Blackpool which was relating to charges for a Kilbarry Train Station,” said Cllr O’Flynn.

“People who have been investing in Blackpool, who have been spending money in Blackpool, have paid a levy which is written as the ‘Kilbarry Train Station Charge’. But the only train stations that have been built are in Midleton and Little Island.

Cllr O’Flynn is estimating that up to €40 million is due back to the people of Blackpool who have built both privately and commercially, which he described as a “tremendous amount of money”.

He continued: “So this money has been ring fenced into a CIE fund, collected by the city council and handed over to CIE. The development charges should be handed back.”

Cllr O’Flynn said that there are provisions for people to be refunded under a 2000 Act regarding levy schemes, although council officials disagreed.

“This money has been collected by Cork City Council, and the council didn’t hang on to the money, they handed it over to CIE and CIE haven’t delivered. And therefore they will have to refund the money back to Cork City Council. Then the city council should refund the money back to those who have paid the levy,” he said.

Ann Bogan of the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Department in Cork City Council explained that various supplementary development contribution schemes have been in place since 2004 and were made to fund the project, which consisted of several features. These included the planned Kilbarry station as well as reopening of, and operation of, services on the Cork to Midleton line.

“As the development contributions collected under the scheme have been properly allocated to the Cork Suburban Rail Project, the issue of refunds does not arise,” she said.

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