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UK: SEA LIFE set to open at The Trafford Centre Manchester

A £6.5million SEA LIFE aquarium is set to open at The Trafford Centre early next year, after planning bosses last night approved an application for the new attraction.

Operated by global visitor attraction operator Merlin, the aquarium will be the 14th SEA LIFE in the UK, and will be situated in a 36,000 square feet site at Barton Square.

Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council has approved a resolution to grant planning permission for a change of use of existing floorspace at Barton Square, at The Trafford Centre. The attraction is expected to bring around 40 new jobs to the area.

Set to open in late Spring 2013, the aquarium will see tanks filled with more than a million litres of water, and feature more than 5000 creatures, 30 spectacular marine displays, and underwater ocean tunnel – and other exciting features yet to be announced.

“Family attraction”

Gordon McKinnon, director of operations at The Trafford Centre, which is owned and operated by Capital Shopping Centres, said of the news: “We are delighted that Merlin’s plans for the new SEA LIFE aquarium have been approved by Trafford Council planning committee, and we’re very excited to be moving on to the next stage in construction of what will be a major new family attraction in the Northwest.

“Merlin already operate the hugely successful LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Barton Square, and with their SEA LIFE centres around the world are global leaders in bringing people into close contact with the incredible creatures of the ocean, in a stimulating and educational environment.

“We are very proud of our family leisure attractions, and we aim to be always ahead in the creation of exciting leisure opportunities for our customers. SEA LIFE is a fantastic addition to that offer, and we’re confident it will be a huge hit with our customers.”

“Brilliant location”

Russell Barnes, Divisional Director Midway Developments at Merlin Entertainments said: “At SEA LIFE we’re passionate about preserving marine habitats and protecting the incredible species that live in them. Marine conversation is at the heart of everything we do – supporting projects across the world to inspire more people to care. We look forward to sharing this with the people of Manchester when they visit what we are confident will be one of our best attractions to date.

“The Trafford Centre has proved a brilliant location for us so far, with the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre providing one of our most successful launches and we are confident that SEA LIFE will also thrive in this - one of the best shopping centres in the country.”

Visitors to SEA LIFE will be wowed by a range of creatures not seen before in the region, including sharks, rays, seahorses and jellyfish.

Celebration Of The Sea

The attraction will be a celebration of the sea from start to finish, providing an excellent focal point for education and conservation in the region. With more than 30 years experience in caring for sea creatures, the brand has a three-pronged approach to conservation – rescue, breed and protect – which can be found at the heart of everything it does.

In recent years, Trafford Centre bosses have rejuvenated the shopping, dining and leisure destination by launching a host of new attractions, including a high-ropes adventure course called Aerial Extreme, the immersive LEGOLAND Discovery Centre at Barton Square, a refurbished Namco Funscape entertainment zone, and a Paradise Island Adventure Golf course. The Centre is also home to one of the most popular ODEON Cinema complexes in the UK.

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