is a new town
, which has been under construction since early 2007. The 750 acre (3 km²) brownfield
site just to the south of Bedford
was formerly known as the Elstow Storage Depot; and in World War II
, as ROF Elstow
. The provisional name of the development during the early planning stages was Elstow Garden Villages (Elstow
is a nearby village famous as the birthplace of John Bunyan
). The name 'Wixams' derives from Wixamtree
, an ancient Hundred
near to where the new town
is situated. (It is actually in the ancient Hundred called Redbournestoke.)
Wixams will consist of four "villages", each with its own centre, built around a town centre. It is expected to have 4,500 homes, which will make it the third largest settlement in the Borough of Bedford after Bedford itself and Kempston, and one of the largest new settlements founded in England since the new towns movement of the first twenty five years after World War II. Part of the site is also in Mid Bedfordshire.
Wixams is adjacent to the A6 trunk road, part of which will be diverted to a new section of dual carriageway to make space for the development. There are plans to built a train station in Wixams, which will be an intermediate stop on the Bedford to London line between Bedford railway station and Flitwick railway station. If this goes ahead Wixams is likely to be chosen by a substantial number of commuters to London. It will also provide housing capacity for people who work in Bedford and Milton Keynes. In addition, there is an intention to develop employment in Wixams itself.
Other 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)
- A primary healthcare centre
- A town park
- A range of shops
- A library
- A sports hall
- Over 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.