Could Titanic project be sunk after funding loss?
TheTitanic Signature Project has missed out on making the final shortlist for a £25m Big Lottery Fund windfall.
It's back to the drawing board for the £90m project, which was intended to showcase Belfast's maritime and industrial history with exhibitions and rides in a glass-fronted building twice the size of Belfast City Hall.
Instead, the Connswater Community Greenway Project makes it through to the final shortlist of the Big Lottery Fund Living Landmarks programme, hoping to secure a £23m grant to develop a nine kilometre linear park winding through east Belfast.
The decision was made at a meeting of the Big Lottery Fund's Living Landmarks Committee in London on Tuesday.
Tourism Minister Nigel Dodds congratulated the Connswater Greenway Community Project but expressed disappointment that the Titanic Signature Project had missed out.
"I strongly believe that the project has the potential to make a major impact on improving Northern Ireland's tourism product - however the Lottery decision leaves a large gap in the funding of the project," he said.
He said the Government would now explore other funding options with the project promoters Titanic Quarter Limited and Belfast Harbour Commissioners.
Brian Ambrose, chairman of the Titanic Foundation, said they were disappointed.
But he added: "We will simply re-group and re-double our efforts and find a way to deliver this exciting project in time for the 2012 Centenary."
Mike Smith, chief executive of Titanic Quarter Limited, said:
"This is not the end of the road - Titanic Quarter and its co-promoters Belfast Harbour Commissioners will be talking to Government about how we can progress matters in the absence of funds from the Big Lottery."