Therapeutic ‘community farm’ could help vulnerable people in Wisbech

Plans have been submitted for a therapeutic community farm near Wisbech. Picture Halfpoint/Getty Ima

Plans have been submitted for a therapeutic community farm near Wisbech. Picture Halfpoint/Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Plans have been submitted for a therapeutic 'community farm' to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people in and around Wisbech.

The Wisbech Community Farm proposal, if approved, would provide 'animal and land-based activities, education and skills development opportunities' for children, young people and adults on farmland north-east of Grassgate House on Lynn Road in Walsoken.

The application has been made by People and Animals UK, a not-for-profit community interest company whose goals include improved community cohesion, enhanced opportunities for the most vulnerable people, lowered levels of social isolation and development of life skills.

A design and access statement submitted to West Norfolk Council says: 'Our new centre has been designed by our community-led steering group, with activities implemented by our team of local volunteers.

'Through our current activities, we have identified that there could be as many as 700 vulnerable people of all ages, living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Wisbech and the surrounding area, who could benefit from the more intensive therapeutic support that the new centre could provide on their journey towards independence.'

The application says the site would support up to 125 spaces for therapeutic interventions per week, but it will not be a petting farm, and will not be open to the public.

Proposed buildings consist of a 26 x 36ft timber canopy/shed, six timber-clad portacabins and a range of mobile polytunnels.

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There would also be a wildlife conservation area and a small team of animals to help the therapeutic activities, including five sheep, three ponies, five goats, two pigs and small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and ducks.

The maintenance of the site would form part of the therapy sessions, says the application, with qualified staff and volunteer teams supervising planned activities ranging from animal husbandry and training, horticulture, green woodworking, and crafting – all tailored to the needs of each participant.

The staff team includes a veterinary nurse, animal welfare expert, animal behaviourist and trainer, horticultural therapist, landscape gardener, community engagement officer and therapist.

The development proposal has been supported by Walsoken Parish Council and Wisbech Town Council, ahead of the planning decision by West Norfolk Council.