A FORMER headteacher's lifelong dream is finally set to be realised after plans to build a farm to provide young people with learning disabilities were greenlit.

Market Field School, in Elmsted Market, unveiled plans to build a one-of-a-kind facility called the Market Field Farm in 2018, although then-headteacher Gary Smith had being exploring the idea for some 20 years.

The idea behind the project was to create a space in which the educational institution could teach practical life skills to their students and increase their chances of employability. 

After years of setbacks, the fully functioning farm has now finally been approved by Tendring Council planning bosses, meaning it will now not be long before spades are in the ground.


Delighted Mr Smith said: “Building is planned to start in spring next year and we are hoping to be finished within 18 months.

"Of course, we don’t know if it will be only 18 months, but we are hoping it’ll be done by then."

Blueprints for the farm show it will be built on vacant land opposite the Chattowood housing development, in Clacton Road. 

The project will utilise six acres of land with a core building used by students and the public. 

As well as pupils, the farm and its amenities, including a café and a bakery, are also being designed to benefit the community of Elmstead Market. 

Mr Smith was inspired to build the farm having dedicated 30 years of life to fighting on behalf of youngsters with learning difficulties.

He has long been dissatisfied with the number of students with learning difficulties who are able to find jobs after leaving education, describing it as "horrendous" and "still not good enough".

Mr Smith hopes the council's decision to give Market Field Farm the go ahead, however, is an indication things are slowly moving in the right direction.

“This has been the missing puzzle piece to be able to be able to increase our students’ employability," added Mr Smith.

“We want to give our students the necessary skills like being on time, being presentable and being adaptable.” 

The project is set to be turned into a reality by developer Darin Shaikly, who Mr Smith is positive will succeed in creating a safe and purposeful space for the students.