VIDEO FEATURE: Exclusive tour of The Curve

After years of planning the multi-functional The Curve is due to be opened next week. Express reporter Hannah Crouch was given an exclusive sneak peak of the facility ahead of its grand opening.

Hannah Crouch

Hannah Crouch

hannahc

Back in 2014 one of my first jobs as a reporter for the Express was pulling on a hard hat in the middle of a muddy building sight in the centre of Slough and being asked to imagine how The Curve would look.

This proved to be tricky. Along with Slough Borough councillors and building staff in charge of the mammoth multi-million pound project we watched as diggers ceremoniously broke the ground at the site in Wellington Street marking the start of one of the town’s most ambitious projects to date.

On Monday I stood in the same place (roughly) as I had the chance to see the finished product and have to say I was impressed.

The end of this project may never have felt in sight due to repeated delays, problems with rats and controversy over the lack of parking.

But after stepping through the sparkly sliding entrance doors of Slough Borough Council’s (SBC) £22m project, this now all seems irrelevant.

Talking to those involved in putting the project together, there appears to be a sense of relief etched upon tired faces who have been working day and night for more than two years to make sure this grand design become a reality.  

Claire Skeates, who was the development manager for the project, said: "It has been a long time coming but hopefully it is worth the wait.

"I think The Curve is a huge asset for the town and it will hopefully bring new people in.

"It will provide new opportunities for arts and other activities."

When questioned about the delays and set backs which plagued the multi-million pound construction, Claire said she believes in the end, it was best to get everything right.

"I think we did the right thing and made sure that everything was done properly,” she says.

There are three floors to this sloping building, which has a Tardis like deceptiveness about its size and is boldly decorated in a yellow, orange and green colour theme.

The curvature design of the building, I was told, is not down to inspirational thinking but rather the shape of the land available to the builders. It also made naming it a lot easier.  

During a tour of the facility, the Express was taken around the brand new adult and children libraries, which replaces the old 1970s library which can be seen across the road, soon to be turned into a new hotel.

Though the books are only starting to be transported over from the old library, the council is confident it will all be ready for the opening on Friday, September 2.

But there is more to the building than the just library, which also offers a number of private study rooms and educational facilities for groups and individuals.

These are all equipped with brand new hi-tech equipment while a raft of creative programmes have already been organised to ensure all areas of the Slough community can make the best of the building.

Disability access is high on the agenda, with modern changing facilities, while the building is also home to a brand new registry office.

As part of a council’s drive to boost its night-time economy, The Curve also features the 280-seater ‘Venue @ The Curve’ which can host conferences and arts shows.

Monthly comedy nights and Shakespeare performances are all planned to be held in the evening while an internal café can be transformed into a bar.

The Curve is the first project to be completed by the Slough Urban Renewal (SUR), which is a joint partnership between SBC and developers Morgan Sindall.

Its purpose is to transform the borough for those who live and work here.

Andy Howell, general manager for SUR, said: "I saw this building six months ago when  it was still a building site and I am exceptionally proud of what the team has delivered.

"I think it is going to have a real wow factor when the public start to use it. It is going to be a fantastic hub in the town."

Walking round The Curve and seeing all the facilities which will be open to the public, it’s clear that the image of the town is changing.

Hopefully it will be for the better.


A timeline of The Curve:

The contract to build The Curve was signed by the Slough Regeneration Partnership in December 2013.

Originally estimated to cost £16m, the project was due to be completed by summer 2015.

Work first began on the site in 2014 but suffered a number of setbacks including a rat infestation and asbestos discovery.

Furthermore an 'underestimation' of work required by the developers meant the now £22m project wouldn't be opened until December 2015.

However, another delay pushed back the opening back to this summer.

SBC said it was due to it re-locating its register services from The Centre, in Farnham Road, to the new town centre facility.


The Curve in numbers

It has:

  • 4,500 square metres of floor space
  • 220 seats
  • 280 seater performance space

 It houses:

  • 44,000 books
  • Six specially created museum pods
  • 35 public computers
  • Six self-service machines

It will host:

  • 300 plus community learning courses a year
  • 4,000 plus baby registrations a year
  • 90,000 plus hours of free computer use a year
  • More than 330 marriages a year
  • 30 plus citizenship ceremonies a year

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