On 9 January, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s Planning Committee unanimously approved a major planning application for Hillsborough Castle.
Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity which assumed responsibility for Hillsborough Castle in 2014, plans to invest over £16m in the site, creating new visitor facilities including a welcome centre, Clore Learning Centre, car park, catering and retail space.
The project will transform the visitor experience at the site, opening up Hillsborough Castle all year round for visitors to enjoy. The State Rooms will be newly presented and interpreted and the castle’s gardens will be carefully restored. The new Clore Learning Centre will host activities for schools, families, youth and community groups, as well as talks and workshops for adults. Skills development, training and volunteering opportunities will also be created for the local community. Once the project has been completed in summer 2019, Hillsborough Castle will be ready to welcome around 200,000 visitors every year.
The project will be financed by charity Historic Royal Palaces, with support from a number of generous benefactors including the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which has awarded development funding to advance the plans.
Subject to full funding being secured, major works are expected to begin onsite in April/May. Planning permission was granted separately for the new car park which will be located adjacent to the A1 carriageway in September 2016 and preparatory work is already underway in this area.
Visiting Hillsborough Castle
Hillsborough Castle will reopen for the 2017 spring/summer season on 1 April 2017 with tours available on selected dates until October. The gardens are open all year, seven days a week until October; please visit www.hrp.org.uk for opening hours and admission prices. The events programme for spring/summer 2017 will be announced shortly.