Titanic £97m plan on course for 2012 finish
The £97m Titanic Signature Project is "on course" to be ready for the centenary of the doomed liner after the Executive finalised its financial commitment, according to the government department leading the project.
A spokesman for the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) said the Executive agreed to go ahead with its £43.5m contribution after legal issues were resolved.
All the funders of the project were embroiled in the fine detail of a legal agreement on the funding, development and operation of the project.
Titanic Quarter Limited, owned by Dublin-based Harcourt Developments, has already started work at the site.
The DETI spokeswoman said, "At its meeting on October 1, the Executive agreed to proceed with its commitment to part-fund the Titanic Signature Project.
"This follows the conclusion of discussions with funding partners regarding final elements within the legal agreement.
"Titanic Quarter Limited, the private sector partner in the project, as a signal of its commitment, had at its own risk and pending final Executive approval authorised work to begin on-site some time ago.
"This has ensured that the building remains on course for completion by April 2012."
The remaining funding is coming from Belfast Harbour Commissioners and Titanic Quarter Limited, to the tune of £43.5m, and Belfast City Council, set to ratify the release of £10m at a meeting this month.
Above: Artist's impression
Titanic Quarter Limited refused to comment officially but a source said: "I don't think the Executive would have signed it off if it wasn't confident we could fulfil our end of the bargain."
With council ratification in place, the funding partners are expected to put their signatures to the legal agreement. The project includes a signature Titanic building project with flying theatre, a "dramatic and interactive" Titanic exhibition and a luxury hotel at Harland and Wolff. The signature project - one of five planned by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board - would provide a major boost for the local construction industry and is expected to attract 400,000 tourists every year. Kathryn Thomson, the board's chief operating officer said she was confident tourism would remain a priority for the Executive.
She said: "The last Programme for Government (PFT) was fantastic for us as it put the economy at the heart of government and tourism at the heart of the economy."