There is new hope that the long-awaited train station for Wixams will be delivered after housing developer Gallagher Estates re-affirmed its funding commitment for a further 5 years at a meeting with councillors.
In 2006 Gallagher agreed to deliver a train station or otherwise contribute financially to the scheme, with its index-linked contribution currently standing at £13.4m. The long, drawn out saga has seen a large funding gap, currently estimated at £4m-£6m, as costs soared whilst the project stagnated.
Gallagher’s financial contribution was due to lapse in May 2019 if no further funding could be found. However, after pressure from Wixams residents, Wixams Parish Council and Borough Councillor Graeme Coombes, efforts have been made by Bedford Borough Council to re-energise the station project. Key to this was extending the timeframe for Gallagher’s £13.4m to allow the Council extra time to bridge the funding gap and find additional project finance. At a meeting of the Wixams Joint Development Control (WJDC) Committee on 31st July it was agreed to extend Gallagher’s obligation to the train station until 2024, allowing more time to explore funding options.
Gallagher also agreed to deliver key roads earlier than planned, hand over community open space and woodland to Wilstead Parish Council and provide a site for a new GP surgery at the planned Wixams Town Centre.
Cllr Graeme Coombes, who represents Wixams and Wilstead and who sits on the WJDC Committee, said:
‘Like many residents I have been deeply frustrated with the lack of progress in delivering key infrastructure for Wixams, so it is positive news that continued pressure has paid off at last by securing progress on schemes including the train station and GP surgery.
‘The commitment from Gallagher to extend its financial commitment to the station for a further 5 years is crucial. We now need Bedford Borough Council to outline in detail its plan for the next 18 months to bring key stakeholders together and obtain the necessary funding. Along with Wixams Parish Council and local residents, I will continue to keep the pressure on until we get the station we were promised.’