THE long-awaited project to revamp Slough’s Ice Arena took a step forward after the council announced the transformation will begin at the end of the month.

The ice rink will shut its doors to skaters on Friday, October 28 for a £7.7m facelift, converting it into a modern ice skating facility.

Fears were raised when the project was first announced after it appeared skating groups such as Slough Jets ice hockey team and Special People on Ice (SPICE) disabled skating group would be without a home while the nine month renovation is carried out, but the council confirmed plans for a temporary facility last month.

The project, which is expected to run throughout most of 2017, will revamp the arena from its “shabby” state.

A council spokesman said: “At 30 years of age, the building now requires extensive mechanical and electrical upgrading and major plant renewal as well as internal refurbishment to the main facilities and fixtures and fittings.

“A property condition survey carried out in 2012 estimated that £2.6m would be needed to keep the facility running up to 2017 – this figure does not include carrying out any internal refurbishment.”

New features at the Ice Arena in Montem Lane will include a gym space, a cafe and replacing the curved roof.

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Councillor Joginder Bal, commissioner for the environment and leisure, said: “The closure of Slough Ice Arena marks a major step in our vision to provide high quality, state of the art leisure facilities that encourage our residents to get up and get active.

“The ice arena has served the town brilliantly for 30 years and has much to be proud of, but it has seen better days and a complete transformation is long overdue.

“I am extremely pleased we have committed funds to the redevelopment as it will give the arena the attention it deserves and help safeguard its future so that generations to come can enjoy it, just like the generations before them.”

Ricci Hodgson, the founder of SPICE, added: "That's fantastic news, it was a concern that it would just sit there unloved for a number of months before the work started.

"We are still concerned however about the temporary rink and what the council's plans are for that.

"We have known since January that the rink will be closing. It's great they are going to start working on it because the sooner it starts the sooner it will be opened again.

"Our kids want continuity, we were promised they would look after our kits' additional needs and that's not happening now."