Since the B&M distribution centre opened at the end of 2019 Wixams has seen a sharp increase in traffic crossing over The Causeway which has caused significant disruption to residents who live nearby. The increase in vehicles mainly includes HGVs servicing B&M and other industrial units but also hundreds of cars entering and exiting Wixams on a daily basis during the B&M shift changes at 6am, 2pm and 10pm. Residents have reported to us and to Bedford Borough Council they’re being disturbed and even woken up in the night due to brake squealing, unsecured loads and loud engine and/or exhaust noise.
Concerns have also been raised about the impacts this traffic will have elsewhere in Wixams. The HGVs often take a little while to access the A6 when it’s busy and this has at times led to a queue reaching all the way to Bedford Road near to the top of Brooklands Avenue as shown in the photo above. If this continues to get worse it’s very likely that drivers will start to find other routes out of Wixams which would mean Brooklands Avenue, Bedford Road, Green Lane and Southern Cross become favoured routes to the A6. This could result in even longer waiting times for traffic trying to access the A6!
One resident took a lot of their time to monitor the current traffic levels and found that there was an average of 56 HGVs per hour between 5am and 10pm, with peaks of up to 78 per hour. The busiest times were found to be in the morning during rush hour and mid to late afternoon. This might not sound like a lot but the noise from all these lorries and cars has already led to some residents putting their homes on the market because the noise has already become unbearable.
On this page:
- Pollution & Air Quality
- Road Surface Damage
- Safety at Fisherswood Road Crossing
- It’s Going to Get Much Worse
- Commercial Noise Impact Assessments
- Voices from the Community
- Link Road Proposal
- Stay Informed
- Green Lane Traffic Chaos
- HGV Parking at Wixams Retirement Village
- Wixams Parish Council Highways Proposal
- Pavement Parking Ban Consultation
- Borough Points of Contact
Pollution & Air Quality
We have heard multiple times that the air quality near to The Causeway is noticeably worse and has even led to genuine health issues for some. One resident recently shared a screenshot from their home air quality monitor which shows the air quality to be in the ‘abnormal’ to ‘very abnormal’ ranges for most of the day, only dropping to ‘normal’ between around midnight and 6am. These readings are from a domestic sensor so cannot be considered conclusive, but we have compared them to the measured traffic levels and there is a distinct correlation (view data).
The pollution from heavy diesel vehicles such as Nitrogen Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, diesel particulates, tyre wear particulates and brake dust can be very damaging to your health. With so many lorries now travelling through Wixams, past residential areas and alongside busy pavements, and with the traffic levels due to increase significantly, we wrote to the Borough to request that additional air quality monitoring be installed in Wixams.
The Mayor has confirmed that an extra Nitrogen Dioxide monitoring station has now been installed on the junction of The Causeway and Bedford Road near to the Wixams Retirement Village and the data from this will be used to determine if further monitoring equipment will be required.
Road Surface Damage
The increase in commercial traffic has led to major damage to the road surface on The Causeway, particularly at the junction with the A6 and the roundabout with Bedford Road. The main damage appeared in December 2019 and has been reported to the Borough multiple times yet has still not been properly resolved. A temporary repair was carried out earlier in the year but it was reported to us that the new repairs had failed within 2 days of being carried out.
Cllr. Tim Hill (Borough Councillor for that part of Wixams) has confirmed that The Causeway along with the approaches to the two A6 roundabouts will be re-surfaced in February/March 2021.
Safety at Fisherswood Road Crossing
Lots of parents and WRV residents have reported concerns to us about the crossing point at the bottom of Fisherswood Road. The roundabout itself blocks the visibility of the traffic coming over The Causeway and pedestrians often have to hurry to cross over because of vehicles suddenly appearing. A resident whose property overlooks the roundabout has said they have witnessed multiple near accidents at that junction already including some involving small children. This crossing point has been built without a proper pedestrian crossing and even without signs to warn drivers of the risks, this seems like a significant oversight.
A few residents have reported their concerns to the Borough and the Mayor has now confirmed that they’re looking into installing a pedestrian crossing at this junction.
It’s Going to Get Much Worse
The recent increase in traffic issues has been predominantly caused by the opening of the B&M unit. This facility is a major distribution centre for B&M and the only one in the south of England. B&M have plans to open another 45 stores by April 2021 and this will likely mean a further increase in traffic using this distribution centre in Wixams.
There are other factors which will mean even more traffic will come to Wixams:
- Over the coming months and years another twelve warehouses/units (including the G-Park development) will be built and operational in the north of Wixams. The HGVs for those units and a big proportion of the staff working there will all use The Causeway to access the A6.
- Fisherswood Road/The Causeway is also one of only three routes onto the A6 from the west side of Wixams, including from the B530. Most of the traffic will likely use Southern Cross as this is the most direct route but some might also use Green Lane if other routes are too busy, this might exacerbate the existing parking and traffic issues there.
- The Wixams railway station is also going to bring an increase in traffic to The Causeway and subsequently other parts of Wixams. It will be the closest station for thousands of people in Kempston, the south of Bedford as well as being much more accessible for nearby villages such as Elstow, Wilstead, Great Barford and beyond.
- A large number of residents in Wixams have been furloughed or are working from home due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Once they return to work the traffic levels will increase.
- The residential areas of Wixams will not be finished for a few years yet but the new residents will of course bring more cars to our roads.
Commercial Noise Impact Assessments
When submitting their planning applications for commercial developments the applicants are required to submit noise impact assessments. This assessment is meant to describe, using data, how the plans would likely impact the community including the site itself and any traffic the development would bring.
We have reviewed the noise impact assessments for the commercial developments in Wixams to see how the developers expected their sites to impact residents and we found the following:
- B&M: “Our assessment has therefore indicated that the increase in noise from road traffic relating to the proposed development will be ‘barely perceptible’ to the residents in Wixams.” (17/03048/MAR V28A, pg. 12)
- Aldi: “…the nearby roads (the A421, A6 and The Causeway) have, subjectively, a relatively high level of traffic, including HGV movements, which makes impacts due to changing levels of road traffic less likely.” (17/02657/MAR V19A, para. 5.4.1)
- Three Units at Wilstead Ind. Park: “The calculations shown in Section 7 above indicate that all activities at the proposed new development will give rise to conditions that would achieve a BS 4142 condition of ‘low impact’ at the nearest existing and proposed dwellings at all times of the day and night.” (18 00956 MAF V26, section 8.3)
- G-Park: “For road traffic noise, the proposed development is expected to cause a maximum increase in average noise level of 0.4 dB LA10,18h. This increase will barely be discernible and is not expected to cause an adverse effect.” (19/01137/MAO V32A, para. 6.9)
Only the B&M unit has been opened so far yet residents have already described the impacts from the HGVs and cars crossing The Causeway as being much more significant than the impact assessment determined. With plans for a total of 13 new warehouses/units to be operational in Wixams it’s clear that Bedford Borough Council’s planning department have also not considered the cumulative impacts of the traffic all using The Causeway for access.
We have contacted the planning department to raise these issues but they have simply explained that The Causeway is “designed to carry between 13,000 – 18,000 vehicles a day” and have not replied to our point that the cumulative impacts have not been adequately considered.
Voices from the Community
There are currently over 150 objections to the G-Park planning application, here are just some of the comments made by members of the public about the traffic issues in Wixams:
Link Road Proposal
Due to the issues above we believe it’s absolutely essential that a link road be put in place to service the commercial areas of Wixams and take the traffic away from residential areas, this includes the Wixams Retirement Village and planned care home on Bedford Road. One solution would be for the road leading to the Tarmac facility to be opened up to traffic and linked to Fisherswood Road. A second link road should then be added to take traffic across to Watson Road meaning all commercial traffic is routed away from The Causeway and Bedford Road.
Cllr. Graeme Coombes has proposed this idea with the Borough and the Mayor has let us know an engineer has been tasked to review the options. To try and improve the issues for local residents the Mayor has proposed some other measures:
- Traffic calming measures for Fisherswood Road
- Low friction tarmac on The Causeway
Unfortunately these proposals are not going to reduce the overall traffic levels or significantly reduce the noise or air pollution from the vehicles.
The developers for the Northern Expansion Area (where B&M has now been built) already raised concerns in 2015 about the traffic impacts on residents of using The Causeway for commercial traffic:
"The development proposes the use of the Old A6 for HGV access to the NEA site thereby avoiding the use of The Causeway by HGV’s and reducing any potentially negative impacts on the neighbouring residential areas as a result." (15/00466/EIA V61, para 2.1.1)
Bedford Borough Council were warned that there would be traffic impacts from the B&M development yet no mitigations were put in place and they have continued to give planning consent for further warehouses. As the traffic is already causing major disruption to residents, congestion within our village, and with plans for another 12 warehouses to be opened here (view map), we're asking the Borough to take action and put a link road in place to fix the issues which they have failed to prevent.
We have been supporting the community by engaging directly with Bedford Borough Council to raise these issues and get them to take action.
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Green Lane Traffic Chaos
As the only road servicing two of the schools in Wixams, Green Lane has seen more than its fair share of traffic issues. The road will eventually link up to the town centre of Wixams but since it was built over 10 years ago the road has been a dead end. This has meant that parents dropping their children off have been forced to turn around and return back down Green Lane which essentially doubles the traffic flow on the road at times.
The main traffic pinch-point is caused by the bends in the road near to Eagle Mews and Harrier Leys. The cars parked along Green Lane blocks one of the lanes between the turnings for Ladybird Way and Nightingale Court and the bends on Green Lane make it much harder for motorists to see if something is coming, often this leads to cars having to reverse back down the road as well as queues reaching all the way back to Dove Lane.
This issue was first reported over 2 years ago but so far the problem has not been resolved and the congestion is even worse this year. In February the Wixams Parish Council put forward a proposal to put yellow lines along part of Green Lane (see further down), however some residents have questioned whether this proposal will go far enough to properly fix the issue and may just lead to the parked cars being moved elsewhere on Green Lane.
The traffic issues on Green Lane were discussed again at the September Wixams Parish Council meeting and Cllr. Graeme Coombes agreed to contact the Borough for an update.
Update 13 October:
We have now met with Cllr. Graeme Coombes and raised the issues around Green Lane with him. He had recently had a meeting with the heads of the two schools on Green Lane as well as a representative from the Borough and they're working on options to resolve the traffic issues. One measure they are looking to take is to encourage the students to walk or cycle to school instead of using the car. Short and long term solutions to the traffic issues are also being looked into, the more permanent fixes are likely to take 9-12 months to be put in place. There's still no news at to when the pathway linking to Village 4 will be open.
HGV Parking at Wixams Retirement Village
A number of residents have reported HGVs parking on Bedford Road outside the WRV which often block the road and/or dropped curbs. There are quite a few residents at the WRV who use mobility scooters or walking aids so this is a real issue for them.
These lorries are delivering to B&M and are not allowed to go on their site if they arrive early or stay once they have completed their deliveries but have exceeded their driver’s hours, meaning they are forced to find somewhere else to park.
We have contacted the Transport Manager at B&M to raise this issue and proposed they park away from residential areas. He was very understanding and agreed to try and resolve this but has said they’re all 3rd party suppliers so it’s very difficult because there are hundreds of them.
The issue has also been reported to the Borough and Cllr. Tim Hill has confirmed he will look into getting double yellow lines in place to cover the dropped curb areas and parking weight restrictions for the length of the road.
Wixams Parish Council Highways Proposal
At the February 2020 meeting the Wixams Parish Council agreed a number of proposals to improve traffic and parking issues in Wixams:
- No parking on verge or footway sign for parts of Brooklands Avenue, Green Lane and Bedford Road.
- Bollards on the corner of Kingfisher Road and Brooklands Avenue.
- Pathway extension on Bedford Road linking to the bus stop.
- A pelican crossing on Green Lane.
- Bus shelters on Bedford Road outside the Wixams Retirement Village
- Yellow lines or bay parking and traffic calming (speed hump) where the road bends on Southern Cross
- Yellow lines on Brooklands Avenue between Bittern Lane and Knoll Gardens.
- No parking on footways signs along Brooklands Avenue between Piper lane, Wren Terrace and Little Owl Lane.
- Yellow lines along the bend of Green Lane (opposite Eagle Mews) up to the junction with Harrier Leys.
- "No verge parking" and "no kerb parking" roundels on the lamp columns along Bedford Road.
- Yellow lines on Bedford Road outside the Wixams Retirement Village.
The full proposal can be found here. This document has been submitted to the Borough and a public consultation will take place in due course. We will update this page when the consultation has been published.
Pavement Parking Ban Consultation
The Government have an open public consultation on banning parking on pavements and verges. They are proposing three options which they would like comments on:
- Option 1: Continue the existing system whereby local authorities can already ban pavement parking in certain areas
- Option 2: Give local authorities extra power to enforce against ‘unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’
- Option 3: Ban pavement parking throughout England
Parking in Wixams is a particular problem, especially in Lakeview (Village 1) where the developers deliberately reduced the available parking spaces in order to encourage residents to walk, cycle or use public transport.
It’s clear that pavement parking can cause an obstruction to pedestrians, however there may be alternative options to resolve this in Wixams. For example, some of the pavements along Brooklands Avenue are up to 4.5 metres wide, these could be reduced and dedicated new parking spaces be created for residents.
If pavement parking were blanket banned it would likely lead to chaos in Wixams the very next day. We therefore recommend you respond to the public consultation before the deadline on 22nd November.
Borough Points of Contact
If traffic issues in Wixams are negatively impacting your wellbeing or you have concerns about any of the issues raised on this page, please consider contacting any of the following to express your views:
- Dave Hodgson
Mayor of Bedford Borough
- Philip Simpkins
Chief Executive of Bedford Borough Council
- Jon Shortland
Chief Officer – Planning & Infrastructure Development
- Graeme Coombes
Borough Councillor for Wilstead and Wixams
Or write to them: Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street Bedford MK42 9AP.