Plans for a £12m aquarium have been given the go-ahead by Belfast City Council.
The decision to green light the reefLIVE aquarium was made at August's planning committee meeting, with the attraction to be located on Queen's Road opposite the Titanic Hotel and a short distance from Titanic Belfast.
Keith Thomas, managing director of reefLIVE Ltd, said: "We are thrilled with Belfast City Council's decision to approve our aquarium, which has received a tremendous amount of public support since its original announcement last year.
"Our commitment to building our first reefLIVE aquarium in Belfast is testament to the city's track record for tourism excellence and an unwavering confidence that sustained investment in Northern Ireland's tourism and leisure sector will prove vital for the region's recovery in a post-Covid world."The investors hope it will become the largest marine life attraction for tourists across Ireland.
There was opposition to the proposal with Ards and North Down Borough Council saying it would impact the Exploris aquarium in Portaferry. Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon was urged to intervene with the council pointing out the difficulty in getting specialist staff and how a drop in visitors could affect Portaferry and the borough.
With an opening date set for 2022, it's hoped the prime location can help reefLIVE attract 300,000 visitors each year and create 50 jobs.
The aquarium's exterior has been designed by Ethos Architects, while the interior has been devised by a world-leading design team led by Kay Elliott Architects and Theme 3 to create "an aquarium for the 21st century".
The council has also approved plans for the £500m Tribeca scheme in the centre of Belfast.
The scheme has attracted controversy, with over 500 letters of objection having been received by Belfast City Council since July.
The decision, however, was welcomed by Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton.
"This £500m investment will create 600 jobs during construction and 1,600 when finished and regenerate this important part of the city. It's a much needed boost for the Belfast economy," he said.
Credit: Belfast Telegraph