ReefLIVE Ltd has announced plans for a £10m aquarium in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, set to be the largest ocean visitor attraction on the island of Ireland.
The building will be designed by Ethos Architects. Subject to planning approval, the state-of-the-art visitor experience is scheduled to open in spring 2021.
The attraction will be located on the Queen’s Road opposite the Titanic Hotel, and close to the Titanic Belfast museum.
In a statement, ReefLIVE Ltd said: “ReefLIVE’s Belfast Aquarium has been designed as an aquarium for the 21st century and will place the visitor at the heart of the marine environment to give them a unique insight into the amazing stories of life beneath the waves.
ReefLIVE Aquarium set to open in 2021
“As part of our work, establishing solid partnerships with educational institutions will be of utmost importance to us at all phases of the facility’s programme development.”
ReefLIVE’s aquarium is expected to welcome more than 300,000 people every year, and increase the length of visitor stays in Belfast.
“Belfast has become one of the UK’s leading hubs for such family friendly experiences and we see the city as a thriving tourism destination,” the statement added. “We are confident in our decision to choose Belfast over other top UK cities for our first investment of this kind.”
The project’s planning consultant is Turley. Brian Kelly, a director at the company, said: “Turley is very excited to be part of this innovative project and we look forward to seeing the ReefLIVE Aquarium situated in the great company of neighbouring attractions as a best-in-class education landmark.
“An aquarium for the 21st century”
“This substantial investment will support the ongoing development of the area as a distinguished tourism destination,” he added.
A planning application will be submitted to Belfast City Council later this year, and a pre-application community consultation event will be held on August 20 at the Titanic Hotel.
Cetaceans and large aquatic mammals in captivity
ReefLIVE has also explained that it will not display any aquatic mammals or large oceanic shark species as it believes a captive environment will not meet the needs of these animals. ReefLIVE will instead use cutting-edge technology to tell the stories of aquatic mammals and pelagic sharks.
This comes after Virgin Holidays confirmed it will stop selling tickets to attractions that use captive whales and dolphins, including SeaWorld.