Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's first urban beach could bring seaside to Titanic Quarter

Move over Paris-Plages...

By Linda Stewart

It was transformed into the People's Park following Queen Victoria's visit to Belfast in 1849, a popular spot for the city folk to gather and enjoy the sunshine, the Highland dancers, the bands and the boat races.

Now those halcyon festival days on Queen's Island could be back - with plans to create Belfast's first urban beach next to the Titanic Belfast building.

The Titanic Foundation is celebrating after its ambitious plan to create an urban beach in Titanic Quarter was shortlisted for a potential £50,000 prize from the People's Millions, a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund and ITV.

Now it needs your help to make that dream a reality as 10 candidate projects across the UK are pitted against each other next week in search of the public vote.

The inspirational plan would see 400 tonnes of sand carted to Queen's Island, where it will be used to create a man-made beach on the lawn close to the Titanic Belfast building for the next five years.

Titanic Foundation destination manager Maeve Curran says a boardwalk will be built round the site, along with a string of colourful beach huts to evoke a seaside atmosphere whatever the weather.

Not only will the urban beach offer a shared space for the people of Northern Ireland, but it will also host a series of sporting, cultural and educational events. In fact, the plan is to have it in place by July next year to greet the arrival of the Tall Ships.

The team has already planned a host of fun activities that can be staged at the beach, from beach volleyball to building giant sandcastles and playing life-sized board games.

The competition, which will be showcased on the UTV evening news from Monday, November 24 to Wednesday, November 26, will see community groups go head-to-head in a bid to win a Big Lottery Fund award for life-changing projects. Two groups each night will make their cases for viewers' support, to take home up to £50,000, with the public voting by phone to help decide who wins the prize.

Titanic Foundation's 'Build a Beach' project is up for public vote on Monday, November 24 - so have your phone at the ready so that as many people as possible can get behind this exciting project. Maeve said: "In 2013 Paris Plage attracted three million people and many beaches are popping up in cities across the UK, including Southbank in London, Cardiff, Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol. We want to bring a little bit of seaside to the city and have positioned the beach next to our World Class Visitor attraction, Titanic Belfast, to add to the visitor experience.

"First we need to secure the funding. If you would use our beach, please pick up the phone and vote on Monday, 24th November. Anyone can vote up to 10 times. We need your support."

On Monday, November 24, between 9am and midnight, supporters will be able to vote for 'Build a Beach' project by calling a number to be revealed on the website peoplesmillions.org.uk at 9am, as well as the Titanic Foundation Facebook page and Twitter @tfl_Belfast. Mobile and BT landline votes will cost 15p. Other landline costs may vary.

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