With more than 2,000 people now signed up to a petition backing Praxis Care’s Secret Garden at Hillsborough Castle a Lisburn councillor has turned to environment minister Mark H Durkan for support.
The mental health charity faces eviction from its market garden and coffee shop as Hillsborough Castle passes from Northern Ireland Office control to that of Historic Royal Palaces.
Due to quit the castle grounds by April 1, the Praxis facility remains while talks continue with the NIO and HRP.
UUP Councillor Alexander Redpath said: “The Department of the Environment is set to hand over Hillsborough Courthouse and Hillsborough Fort to Historic Royal Palaces at some point in the future.
“These sites form an important part of Historic Royal Palaces’ broader plan for Hillsborough Castle.
“As a result, the Department has influence over Historic Royal Palaces and I have written to the minister asking him to use this influence to secure Praxis Care a suitable site in Hillsborough.
“The SDLP, and in particular Councillor Pat Catney, have been very supportive of Praxis Care’s position and I hope the minister will be in a position to help us.
“Our priority is to save the 16 placements provided by the Secret Garden for people with learning difficulties.”