It’s been more than a decade since the first bricks were laid down in our lovely town and, even though Wixams is a great place to live, the journey so far has been pretty rocky. Residents have seen the plans for Wixams change a number of times and some much needed facilities removed. Below we have highlighted the key issues in Wixams and identified some cases where decisions have been made on our behalves by councillors and council officers which have sometimes gone directly against the wishes of the community.
We think the best way to protect the remaining plans for our town is to form an independent residents’ association which can work more closely with the community to push for change, and to collaborate with parish councils and local authorities where needed.
On this page:
- Wixams Station
- Retail Units
- Zebra Crossings
- Public Transport
- Join the committee or Sign Up for updates
- Inaugural Meeting 20th October
You can find out more about the plans for Wixams on the Development Plans page.
After many years of waiting the planning application for the Wixams Railway Station has now been submitted and the first trains expected in December 2024.
Good news? Yes, but only because of the actions of some very proactive Wixamites who campaigned in 2018 when the station plans were in peril. The station had been delayed due to a funding gap and after multiple attempts by Gallagher Estates (now L&Q Estates) to find a way forward, it was clear that the station couldn’t be built without the shortfall being met. After months of campaigning Mayor Dave Hodgson finally took action and committed the tax-payer funding which meant the station could go ahead.
You can find out more about the station from the council’s dedicated pages:
- Wixams Station Overview: www.bedford.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-travel/strategies-and-major-projects/wixams-station/wixams-station-overview
- Wixams Station FAQs: www.bedford.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-travel/strategies-and-major-projects/wixams-station/wixams-station-faqs
In March 2022 the Wixams Joint Development Control Committee (WJDCC) voted to remove a set of planned facilities across Wixams to help meet a funding shortfall for the primary school in Village 3. The proposals included the removal of the units in Willow Grove (Village 2) and Harrowden Green (Village 4), which would likely include a local shop and takeaways in each, similar to those in Lakeview (Village 1).
This decision was based on arguments made by the principle planning officer for Wixams who suggested a move to internet shopping and the impacts of the pandemic mean there wouldn’t be enough demand to fill those units, as well as the 10 planned for the town centre. Questions have raised about this rationale by residents as local shops are always in need. There has also been more demand than predicted; within 24 hours of a post in our Facebook group LSP Developments received 25 enquiries from local businesses interested in leasing one of the few town centre units being offered.
After a campaign led by the Wixams Newsletter 57 residents responded widely rejecting the removal of these key facilities. When the public objections were highlighted by Cllr Graeme Coombes to the planning officer at the meeting he simply responded with a shrug. The WJDCC voted to approve all the revisions with 5 votes in favour, 3 against and 1 abstention (full story on page 9 of Apr 2022 Wixams Newsletter).
Parents have been calling for zebra crossings in multiple key locations in Wixams for many years, including on Brooklands Avenue near to Lakeview Primary, Green Lane near to Wixams Tree Primary and Bedford Road parallel with Green Lane. Early in 2022 a young girl was hit by a car on Brooklands Avenue, sustaining minor injuries, leading to her mum submitting a petition to Bedford Borough Council for crossings in Wixams. The petition was signed by 178 residents and once presented to the council led to them assuring a crossing will be installed on Green Lane as part of the extension to Wixams Tree Primary School.
Whilst there has now been some progress, further action will likely be needed to pressure the councils to install more crossings to improve pedestrian safety (including Central Beds Council for a crossing on Meadow Road), especially for our children who are trying to get to school along our busy roads.
Bus services in Wixams are severely lacking and in the 2021 Wixams Residents Survey people asked for Sunday and late services, they also highlighted that the 44 and 81 buses often arrive at the same time.
The good news is Stagecoach announced the 81 route will be changing to the MK1 and will include services on Sundays and public holidays. The MK1 will go from Bedford bus station and via Wixams to Luton and Luton Airport bus station, and then up the M1 to Milton Keynes.
- Stagecoach announcement: www.stagecoachbus.com/promos-and-offers/east/east-bus-network
- Timetable: tiscon-maps-stagecoachbus.s3.amazonaws.com/Timetables/East/BEDFORD/BE-MK1-301022.pdf
- Bedfordshire route map: tiscon-maps-stagecoachbus.s3.amazonaws.com/RouteMaps/East/NETWORK%20MAPS/Bedfordshire%20Network%20-%20OCT%202022.pdf
Unfortunately the councils have very little ability to influence the bus services due to privatisation and deregulation. However more work is needed to push for improved routes and discount schemes which would benefit those who rely on the buses.
In 2020 we highlighted that the creation of a logistics park in Wixams, with only one access point via The Causeway, had increased congestion and that the issue would get worse.
The road network will have to accommodate:
- The extra traffic generated by Wixams’ residents who work outside of the town as there are fewer employment opportunities here.
- The extra traffic generated by the workers at the warehouses who mainly don’t live in Wixams.
- The HGVs servicing the warehouses.
- The traffic from neighbouring villages who will use Wixams as a rat-run to avoid Houghton Conquest and Cow Bridge near the Interchange Retail Park.
- Residents from nearby villages, Kempston and the south of Bedford who will use the Wixams train station to commute.
When the planning applications were submitted for the warehousing in Wixams, neither the council’s highways team nor Highways England made any comment about the ability of the roads to handle the cumulative traffic from all the warehouses. A proposal was made by Cllr Graeme Coombes for a link road to take the commercial traffic away from residents areas. Whilst this idea has a lot of support from the community it would likely be paid for by the tax payer and raises questions as to why the highways team didn’t consider the long term impacts on our roads from the outset.
Residents in Lakeview (Village 1) have struggled for more than a decade with the lack of parking spaces for themselves and visitors, particularly along Brooklands Avenue. This is because of legislation in place at the time of building which limited the number of spaces to an average of 1.5 per household to encourage people to use public transport. We met with L&Q Estates in September 2021 and they explained that they didn’t think this was appropriate for Wixams. They had highlighted this issue with Bedford Borough Council and recommended they request dispensation from this legislation, but the council refused.
There are places where additional on-street parking could be created but this would be at the expense of the tax payer. However, with house prices being so high many younger residents will likely remain living with their parents but may add an extra car to the household, so the problem will only get worse and will be more expense to resolve in the long run.
The vast majority of jobs created in Wixams are for relatively low pay and in only one industry: Logistics. Significant progress is being made in automation which means many of the lowest paid jobs will be gone in the coming years:
- Boston Dynamics: Stretch Truck Unload Timelapse
- Boston Dynamics: The Future of Enterprise Asset Management is Mobile
- Tech Insider: Inside A Warehouse Where Thousands Of Robots Pack Groceries
All the land originally allocated for new employment has now gone and the ‘expansion area’ has been used to build the B&M and planned Aldi distribution centres. No investment has been made in Wixams in creating workspaces such as offices for local businesses, or for national businesses which could employ local residents. No small commercial units have been created for businesses such as painters and decorators, plumbers etc which could be leased by local firms to help them thrive and grow, and which would lead to more job opportunities for residents in the future.
Representatives from Bedford Borough Council have said that some office units could be created in the town centre and near to the railway station, but this will not be enough to create a sustainable local economy. Our young residents looking for work will likely be forced to choose between low paid local work or having to commute by car or train.
More work is needed to pressure the councils to create more sustainable employment opportunities for our new town.
Join or Sign Up
This is just a selection of some of the issues and challenges residents in Wixams have faced over the last decade. To help resolve some of these problems and to try and prevent the loss of yet more facilities the community will need to work together to help make Wixams a town we can all enjoy for many years.
Join the Committee
We need committee members to help run this group and to work on behalf of other residents. If you’ve never been on a committee before it’s easier than it sounds and won’t take up a lot of your time. These are lots of different roles and activities you can take part in:
- Attending meeting with councillors, developers and other stakeholders.
- Attending parish council meeting to stay up to date with developments (predominantly Wixams and Houghton Conquest PCs).
- Looking into plans and planning application to find out what’s being proposed.
- Help to run a Facebook group/page or other social media channels to share news.
- Write content for email newsletters.
- Run the committee itself as chair, secretary or treasurer.
Please use the form below if you’re interested in joining the Wixams Residents’ Association committee:
Sign up for Updates
Enter your email address below to get news and updates from the association. This will include notifications about planning applications which may impact you.
A meeting to establish the new association will be held in the Swan Room, Lakeview Village Hall. Please come along to share your views and help set up this group.