Astral Park gets ready to open

The long-awaited opening of Leighton’s newest community centre takes place next month and the public are being invited to a special event to mark the occasion.

Astral Park, the £1.5m development at Billington Park, throws its doors open to the town’s residents on March 29 with an open day showcasing what the building has to offer.

Mark Penton, new boss of Astral Park, Leighton Buzzard.

Mark Penton, new boss of Astral Park, Leighton Buzzard.

Interest groups will have stalls inside the centre to highlight their work while a family fun day will provide lots to see and do for youngsters.

Leighton-Linslade Town council has appointed former leisure centre boss Mark Penton to head the operation and he will have two staff working beside him ensuring that AP is manned seven days a week.

Mark hopes that the centre will attract everything from exercise classes and children’s groups, to business conferences and weddings. Yes, you will even be able to get married at the venue and hold your reception in the same place!

“I’ve had a look around the area and there isn’t another community building like this anywhere,” said Mark.

“I’m really excited at what we’ll have to offer and I’m looking forward to the local people being excited too. This is a great venue which I hope the community will take to their heart. I want them to adopt it and make it their own.”

The signs are good. Residential neighbours were horrified when, before it was even finished, the new building was daubed with graffiti and they soon made their feelings known.

“They were as outraged as we were so we know that a lot of people already feel very protective about their community centre,” added Mark.

“It’s such a new venture that it’s going to be a bit of a learning curve to start with. We want people to get involved and, so far, I’ve had a great deal of interest from all sorts of groups and organisations.

The building houses one vast room that can be split into a large unit and up to two others; there’s a kitchen, showers and four changing rooms to allow sports sides to change in comfort.

Outside there will be pitches for both adult and junior football.

The open day, which will see mayor Amanda Dodwell officially cut the ribbon, runs from 11am to 1pm.

Contact Mark for more information about AP on 01525 631910 or email