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Charity to build ‘therapeutic garden centre’ to help people struggling with poor mental health

Portadown Wellness Centre hopes to develop the social enterprise on vacant land and used car sales lot on the Armagh Road

A new mixed-use social enterprise – including facilities for gardening and therapeutic classes – could be opening in Portadown.

It could, that is, if Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council rubberstamps proposals brought forward by Portadown Wellness Centre.

The proposals relate to a site at Armagh Road, on the approach to Portadown, currently described as “vacant land and used car sales lot”.

The intention is to create a “social enterprise site with mixed community uses”.

This would consist of a garden centre – with general display areas, planting display area and pots display – as well as a polytunnel.

Two modular buildings would also be installed on site. The intention is to use these to provide therapeutic classes and social enterprise.

There would also be on site car parking – a total of 35 spaces – as well as a two-metre high security fence around the entire area.

Access and exit will be via the Armagh Road and off the main access into the existing Lidl store.

Portadown Wellness Centre is a registered charity, which is based out of the Tavanagh Industrial Estate, at Church Street in the town.

It cites its goal as being that of “lifting the cloud of mental illness”, and says it works to support and empower “anyone affected by mental illness, addiction, physical illness, loneliness or isolation”.

It officially launched in 2019 and gardening is just one of a number of activities it offers as part of its therapeutic programme to helping people in need. Cookery and various crafts are also offered by the charity, which has received great community support and backing from both the private and public sector and local businesses in order to offer a wide mix to those whom it helps.

The addition of gardening facilities at this new site will be a major boost for the Portadown Wellness Centre and means it will be able to help and benefit even more people, all the more necessary given the reported increase in mental health problems in the local community as a result of isolation and major upheaval brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The application will be advertised publicly and a decision brought back to council’s planning committee, most likely in the spring.

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