reefLIVE Aquarium



Click the sections below to view Frequently Asked Questions.

Who is bringing this development forward?
The project is being taken forward by ReefLIVE Ltd.

Who is ReefLIVE?
ReefLIVE Limited (ReefLIVE) is a new company set up by a highly experienced management team to develop and operate a new generation of for-profit public aquariums in city centre locations.

What other Aquariums have ReefLIVE been involved in delivering / operating?
The Belfast aquarium will be the ReefLIVE Aquarium’s first UK project and it is likely that Belfast will be the first of several ReefLIVE aquaria, with other locations also currently under consideration.

What inspired the project?
ReefLIVE’s decision to open an Aquarium in Northern Ireland stems from the rising tide of public interest in marine life, and the environmental issues facing species and habitats off the shores of Britain and Ireland, and around the world.

Who is paying for the redevelopment and associated planning permissions?
The project, and all statutory approvals, will be privately funded.

Why Belfast?
Belfast was identified as the location of choice for ReefLIVE’s first aquarium experience due to the city’s position as a top education and tourism destination.
Where is the site and how large is it?

The site is located on the lands to the south east of the Titanic Hotel, north east of Bell’s Theorem Crescent and south west of Hamilton Road, extending across Queens Road, Olympic Way and to meet Queens Island Wharf and the River Lagan.

What do the proposals include?

The proposal includes plans relating to an aquarium and associated sea intake/outfall infrastructure.

How many jobs will it create?

While the construction plans are still in the early phases of development, the project hopes to create approximately 100 jobs comprising 40 operational roles once open, and an estimated 50 – 60 contracting roles throughout construction.

How many visitors per annum is the Aquarium expected to attract?
We anticipate the Aquarium to attract over 300,000 visitors each year.

What level of investment is being proposed?

The project will receive an initial capital investment of £10 million.

Who is investing in the proposals?

The project is being funded by private backers. We are not in a position to disclose anything further at this stage.

What level of return to the local economy will this create?

An Aquarium located in the heart of the Titanic Quarter will contribute to the area’s resilience as a top tourist destination and encourage visitors to stay longer in the city to explore other attractions and the hospitality offering in Belfast.

How has the design process been approached?
The proposal seeks to establish a welcoming and fun visitor attraction that will complement the surrounding Titanic Quarter. The modern facility will aim to add a new landmark to the area while also meeting the functional needs of an Aquarium.

Has the design approach been considered by the existing Titanic Quarter area?
Yes, consultation has taken place with Titanic Quarter Ltd and Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

How does the design fit in with the revised Titanic Quarter Masterplan and associated public realm?
The design has been integrated into the thinking and design being undertaken by the consultants for the wider masterplan.
Will this have any impact on heritage assets in Titanic Quarter?

The design proposals have considered carefully the Aquarium’s potential impact on surrounding heritage assets and this assessment will be included in a Design and Access Statement submitted as part of the planning application.

How does the proposed building impact on the listed Titanic Hotel?

The proposal’s eaves line is below that of the Cornice height of the listed Titanic Hotel. This was a constraint within the parameter plans for the wider masterplan and we have respected that. Any plant area or construction at roof level, is set well back from the eaves line and does not conflict with the listed building street frontage.

What improvements in road infrastructure will be delivered to accommodate the Aquarium?

An assessment will be undertaken to demonstrate how the development proposals do not exceed current limits within the Titanic Quarter development framework for road improvements, and submitted as part of the planning application proposals.

Will construction require the roads to be closed?
At this early stage, we are not aware of construction work programmes at the moment, however it would be anticipated that any requirement for road closures would be managed to ensure insignificant impact upon traffic progression on Queens Road.

What impact will the development have on traffic?
The traffic impact of the proposed development is anticipated to be low. The development will benefit from shared trips with those visiting Titanic Belfast and also the peak periods for the proposed development will occur at weekends, when traffic volumes within Titanic Quarter are considerably lower than Monday – Friday.

Is there enough parking provided on site for visitors and future staff?
Parking will be provided for the proposed development within acceptable walking distance of the site.

Will car parking in the surrounding area be impacted as a result of this development?
The proposed development requires 22 car parking spaces and these will be provided for this proposal.
When will the application be submitted?
The application is anticipated to be submitted in the autumn of 2019.

When will you be looking to start building?
Subject to planning permission being granted, work on site will begin in spring 2020.

How long will the construction phasing take to complete?
It’s estimated that once work commences it will take approximately 1 year to complete the project.

How will the construction site be managed?

A construction management plan will be provided as part of the planning process, which will endeavour to minimise any potential negative impacts on the surrounding area.

Why are you holding a public consultation?

In order to begin the development of the Aquarium we must first apply for planning permission from Belfast City Council. As the project is considered a ‘major planning application’ We have submitted a proposal of application notice (PAN) to Belfast City Council, beginning a period of formal community consultation before a planning application is submitted later this year.

A pre-application community consultation event is being held at the Titanic Hotel on: 20 August 2019.

Feedback received will be analysed and will be used to inform the final planning application. A Pre-application community consultation report will be submitted alongside the planning application.

Who are you consulting with?

This consultation is open to the all members of the public and we welcome feedback from members of the public, neighbouring businesses and elected representatives.

How can I submit my comments?

There are a number of additional ways you can comment. You can do this by:


Via our online feedback form - click here.

Consultation Hotline: 0808 1688 296.

How long do I have to comment?
Feedback to the pre-application period closes on 3rd September. Once the application has been submitted comments can be made to the Belfast City Council Planning Department.

What are planning to do with the consultation feedback?

All feedback submitted will be summarised in a Pre-Application Community Consultation Report which will be submitted alongside the planning application. Personal details will not be shared with a third party and we will not contact you in relation to any other project or for marketing purposes.

The information you provide will be stored securely until determination of the planning applications. Following determination, this information will be deleted. Unless you have indicated otherwise, we will not contact you about this development.

What kind of marine life will be housed at the ReefLIVE Aquarium?

The ReefLIVE Aquarium will tell the story of how our seas are ‘All One Ocean’, showing visitors examples of the fascinating species that live in some of the most spectacular habitats around the world, from Ireland to Indonesia and from the Arctic to the Azores. ReefLIVE prides itself in only selecting species that are suitable for aquarium displays and we’ll seek to ensure the source of our animals is from sustainable sources.

Where will the marine life come from?

The livestock for the exhibits will be very carefully sourced from responsible and sustainable sources.

In what environment will the marine life be housed?

We will design and build realistic recreations of natural habitats.

How long do I have to comment?
Feedback to the pre-application period closes on 3rd September. Once the application has been submitted comments can be made to the Belfast City Council Planning Department.

What regulations, licencing or guidance will ReefLIVE follow?

ReeflLIVE will operate in full compliance with the Secretary of State’s Standard for Modern Zoo Practice and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and The Zoos Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003.

Are ReefLIVE members of British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), or the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA)?

It is the intention of ReefLIVE that the new Aquarium will become a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), and European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) subsequently by association with BIAZA.

What age groups is the ReefLIVE Aquarium appropriate for?

ReefLIVE will be suitable for a wide range of ages. Around 25% of all visitors are expected to be children aged 3-14 years old.

In addition to marine life what other exhibits will form the visitor experience?

ReefLIVE will place the visitor at the heart of the marine life experience by using high quality live displays with the most innovative aquarium design and build techniques to recreate international marine environments that are ‘the best of the best’, a true inspiration to visitors showing them how the marine environment can and should be, if properly managed and conserved.

Will the facility be free?

ReefLIVE will be a paid-for experience and exhibition. Tickets will be available for purchase at the entrance or online.

How much will admission cost?
The cost of admission is yet to be determined.

Will there be an on-site catering?

There will be a café on site which will serve locally-sourced light refreshments throughout the day. After normal Aquarium hours, ReefLIVE will become a unique venue for events and private hire and we will avail of external catering services for such events.

Will ReefLIVE detract visitors from the recently re-opened Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry?

Exploris in Portaferry is a long-standing, popular destination for day visitors from throughout Northern Ireland and beyond. We predict the appeal of the Ard’s Peninsula and the level of interest by tourists and day visitors in visiting it will remain strong irrespective of developments elsewhere.

Will ReefLIVE detract visitors from any of the nearby tourist attractions such as Titanic Belfast or W5?

ReefLIVE acknowledges that a number of world-class tourist attractions currently reside in Titanic Quarter, Belfast. Our decision to locate the Aquarium in the area is testament to the existing calibre of visitor attractions such as Titanic Belfast and W5, and we believe there is a number of shared benefits available to all nearby enterprises by introducing a new attraction to the district.

Will the proposed construction works have any impact on the nearby leisure attractions such as W5 or We Are Vertigo?

It is anticipated that the proposed construction works will not have any impact upon W5 or WAV. The proposed development is adjacent to the listed drawing offices and therefore the construction programme and methods will be closely monitored in order to minimise disruption.

Can you describe the Aquarium concept?

With a unique combination of beautifully curated live aquarium displays, together with state-of the-art digital and audio-visual presentations, ReefLIVE will offer all visitors the chance to experience a series of amazing interactive environment zones, ranging from the Irish Coastline to the North-West Pacific, and on to the coral reefs of Indonesia.

How long do you expect visitors to stay at the venue for?

We anticipate the full Aquarium experience to enable a visitor dwell time of 1 ½ - 2 hours.