Wixams (or The Wixams) is a new town in Bedfordshire, which has been under construction since early 2007. It is expected to become the largest settlement in its area after Bedford itself and Kempston, and one of the largest new towns founded in Britain since the British new towns movement of the first twenty five years after World War II.
The 750 acre brownfield site for the Wixams development is located just to the south of Bedford, and was formerly known as the Elstow Storage Depot, and during the Second World War as ROF Elstow. The provisional name of the development during the early planning stages was Elstow Garden Villages, (Elstow is a nearby village famous for its association with John Bunyan). The name 'Wixams' derives from the Wixamtree Hundred of the county covering parishes south of Bedford, near although the new town is in fact being built just across in the Redbournestoke Hundred.
Wixams is planned to ultimately consist of a town centre and four "villages", each with its own centre, built around a town centre. It is expected to have 4,500 homes, and is likely to provide housing capacity for people who work in Bedford, Milton Keynes and London. In addition, there is an intention to develop employment in Wixams itself. The villages have been known in the course of development simply as "Village 1", "Village 2", "Village 3" and "Village 4" though Village 1 is now called Lakeview.
Facilities which are scheduled to be constructed include:
- Over a million square feet of office space
- Three lower schools (ages 5–9), two middle schools (9-13) and one upper school (13-18)- on hold due to Bedford Borough most likely moving to two tier.
- A primary healthcare centre, on hold until when resident numbers reach 15,000 to 20,000.
- A town park - likely to include an Asda
- A range of shops
- A library
- A sports hall
- Over 300 acres of parkland and public open space, featuring a series of lakes, water bodies and wetland areas. These are a legacy of the former open cast mineral extraction on the site, which lies within the Forest of Marston Vale, a brickmaking and gravel extraction area with many exhausted pits.
Gallagher Estates is the master development company for the whole of Wixams. The first area or village under development is known as Lakeview (previously Village One). Developers include Bloor Homes, Careys New Homes, Lagan Homes, Leech Homes, Miller Homes and Taylor Wimpey.
The first residents of Lakeview moved in to the area in early 2009, but construction work has proceeded more slowly than forecast due to the late 2000s recession and the consequent state of the housing market. In August 2009, the first housing association properties were let to residents in Lakeview, with shared-ownership homes also becoming available. The first lower school in Wixams, Lakeview Lower School opened in September 2009.
Church and community
In late summer 2010, the Wixams Community Group was formed from residents who have moved to the new town. Site preparation works for the Village Two and Village Three areas of Wixams began in early 2011.
Wixams Church was completed and consecrated in 2013, though its roots are in the appointment of a minister in February 2011, the Reverend Tim Jackson. The church is a joint ecumenical venture between the four main Protestant denominations, the Church of England, Baptist church, Methodist Church and United Reformed Church.
In January 2012, HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex made an official visit to Wixams. The princess visited Lakeview Lower School, and met the Mayor of Bedford Borough, the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Tony Gallagher (chairman of Gallagher Estates, which is building the town) and pupils and staff from the school.
Bedford Borough Council reported that over 600 homes were occupied in Lakeview by the end of 2012.
A village hall has been built in Lakeview and opened in March 2013. The hall is managed by members of a local community trust through a community company.
Wixams is adjacent to the A6 trunk road, part of which was diverted to a new section of dual carriageway in 2007/08 to make space for the development.
Wixams railway station is a planned new railway station to be built in Wixams, which will be an intermediate stop on the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Flitwick. The station is due to be built by 2015.
- Wixams Community Group
- Gallagher Estates website for Wixams
- Lakeview School, Wixams
- Lakeview Village Hall
- Wixams Church