Westbury’s long-awaited Leigh Park Community Centre has been officially opened by MP Andrew Murrison.

The £750,000 centre, which is next to the shops off Mane Way, was redesigned to make best use of the space in 2007, after the original outline for the development was granted in 1998.

Funding for the centre has come mostly through a Section 106 planning agreement with Persimmon, which is the principal developer on the nearby 1,200-home Leigh Park estate.

The centre, which includes a kitchen and catering facilities, has already proved very popular with the community, with bookings from a variety of groups, activity classes, celebrations and parties.

At last Friday’s ceremony, Dr Murrison said: “It’s been a long time coming, but I think it’s been worth the wait. It’s a truly fabulous building and I think it will be a prince among community centres. This is a new community and it is right that it should have a state-of-the-art community centre at its heart. I am confident it will provide everything this community requires.

“I believe the centre already has a full booking list – a booking list full to overflowing – which bodes very well for the future.

“I would say well done to Wiltshire Council for leading this project. Councils always come up for a lot of flak, that is the nature of councils, but they have done extremely well.”

When the original outline permission was granted in 1998, the requirement to provide a community centre formed part of the conditions agreed with the former West Wiltshire District Council.

During the building of the estate the centre was redesigned and new planning permission, paid for by a revised planning agreement , was granted in 2007.

The centre was also partly paid for by Wiltshire Council, the Westbury Area Board, Community First, Hills Waste Solutions, Westbury Churches Together, the BA13 Community Group and Aster Homes.

Debbie Cole, the vice-chairman of the Leigh Park Community Association, said: “It’s been such a long time coming that we should be rubbing our eyes to see if it’s really happened. But it has and it’s even better than we could have ever hoped.

“The journey was long and a lot of people worked together to make sure this well-needed community centre really happened.”

The project board was chaired by the council’s portfolio holder for communities, Cllr Chris Williams.

He said: “I’m sure it will benefit many people for generations to come.”