WYCOMBE Summit won't reopen for at least 18 months as bosses prepare to bring a real snow centre and ice rink to town.

As previously reported, bosses of the ski centre, in Abbey Barn Lane, were preparing a planning application to bring a snow dome to High Wycombe after a fire destroyed its chalet in November last year.

The centre also hoped to reopen in the meantime to keep people coming to its dry ski slopes.

But now bosses say the current centre will not reopen because it is not practical.

This partly comes after they were told that planning permission was needed to put up temporary cabins to carry on running the business.

Instead, they are now focusing on plans to build the indoor real-snow centre on site.

We can also reveal that an ice rink would be part of the new centre.

The application is set to be submitted to Wycombe District Council by the end of this month.

Martin Smith, managing director of Snowdome Group Ltd, which owns the centre, said he hoped the site would reopen by winter 2007.

But he admitted that if the plan was rejected it could prove disastrous for the centre's future.

He said: "It could be a nightmare if it didn't get through.

"We are not applying to build into the wood we want to build where something already exists the slopes.

"It would be only the fourth snow centre in the UK.

"In the meantime people will go where they want to go. Our belief is when we open we will attract people whether they are new, old or different."

Mr Smith said the costs of looking after the site during closure were being covered by insurers for 12 months.

He said the company would be solely responsible after this time.

All 70 staff have now been made redundant.

The final redundancies were made in March but 20 were allowed to work at the Snowdome in Tamworth, Staffordshire, temporarily.

This is also owned by the Snowdome Group.

Only two workers decided to relocate there permanently after bosses announced that the Wycombe centre would not reopen in its current form.

Mr Smith added: "About ten to eight people were offered alternative employment but the only venue we can offer is Tamworth.

"The practicalities for most people was difficult with family commitments and other things.

"What we have said to all senior staff by mutual consent is that when we reopen we will be contacting them and hope to offer similar jobs in an improved facility."

Mr Smith said the community itself had requested an ice rink in High Wycombe and he was hopeful the plan would go ahead.

Meanwhile, the site has been given 24-hour security while it remains closed.