Can we afford to lose Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont whitewater course?

Plans are nearly finalised for a £1.2m investment into the whitewater course at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham. They’re shutting the course for three months from November this year to get started. Major changes to the river channel will change the face of the course forever. It’s a fantastic opportunity, but there’s a problem.

No-one’s asked for our input.

Have a look at the most recent plans we’ve seen, developed by the World Class team. The back channels and pools have been filled in completely with concrete, and the gradient and depth of the course levelled out to make way for more plastic rocks that only create eddies. This means…

  • No waves or holes for groups of whitewater improvers
  • Not enough depth to get your playboat vertical
  • No power to the features for dipping raft tubes
  • Shallow ledges to slam the stern of your wild water racer.
  • And a shallow, narrow river channel to punish the shins of anyone practicing safety and rescue.

We’re seriously concerned. Without asking the people who use the course day-in day-out, who work there and who travel the length and breadth of the country to visit it, this could be £1.2m cast to the wind. It could turn the high-volume, deep-pool HPP into a shallow-channel like the Teesside white
water course.

Even worse, it could leave HPP a costly white elephant. When the Broxbourne course opens in 2010, the World Class slalom paddlers will desert Nottingham. And if the changes mean less people paying to raft, canoe and kayak, Nottingham City Council will face a stark decision. Do they keep the course open and lose money with every day of operation? Or do they just shut it?

Ill communication

The prospect of huge investment in the course has been rumbling on for a while now. At the HPP users’ forum on 27th May, the World Class team assured us they’d consider the broader needs and interest of the course’s users. They told us we’d be part of the next stage of the feasibility process. We hadn’t been involved in the process up to that point, but this newfound openness boded well for the future.

Then, last week, a casual conversation with one of the slalom paddlers shot down these hopes. They told us the course is shutting in November for three months. And they’re unveiling finished plans on August 11th. That’s a week’s time!

A course for all

All course users NEED to have their say on major changes like this. We want to be involved. And we need to make it clear that changes on this scale can’t happen without everyone’s input.

This isn’t a slight on slalom or slalomists. HPP is fundamental to UK slalom and to GB slalom’s global success. It’s great to see enormous groups of juniors out training on weekday evenings. We don’t want to lose that. And we’re supporting every paddle stroke our team make out in Beijing right now.

But as soon as these changes are made to Holme Pierrepont, our World Class athletes will have the Broxbourne 2012 site, built just for them. All we ask is that before making any changes, the course designers take into account all river users – just like the developments at Teesside, the Washburn, Cardiff and on the Wye. We need to look outside the BCU World Class slalom office if
we’re going to find inspiration for a course to last another 30 years – so we can’t make any hasty changes until we know they’ll work for everyone.

We need your help

If you want to help put forward the views of water users outside the BCU World Class slalom office, there’s one single thing you can do to help. And it’ll take under a minute.

Pledge your support

It’s the single most powerful thing you can do to help. We’ve been talking to a million different organisations – the BCU, World Class, Sport England, Nottinghamshire County Council, Leisure Connection and more – and we need to be able to show broad support with a stack of support. Then we might need to get back to you and ask for further support. From what I’ve been told, we need 280 BCU member pledges – but I’ll confirm that number during the week when I’ve checked my facts.

Click here to support us

Or, if you’d prefer, send a mail with your BCU/ECA/WCA/SCA/CANI number to

Thanks for reading this, and thanks for your support.


6 responses to “Can we afford to lose Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont whitewater course?

  1. As far as I’m aware no date has actually been set for starting the work. People have been guessing that it will be in November because the peak rafting season finishes at the end of October. As for the designs, this is actually the first time I have seen it myself, but I have had rough explanations of what is hoping to be done. Personally I think its all very exciting and should bring the course, that was designed about 10 years before it was even built, up to date.

    I read through the article that you have linked to and I feel that the plans have been misinterpreted. Yes it says that all the concrete obsticals are to be removed, but they are all being replaced by the omnifloat system as shown by the red shapes in the river channel. The omnifloats come in various sizes and will mimic the old concrete blocks with the added benefit of being able to move them around to change the features. These features will not be limited to eddies as stated in the article, but can also be used to create waves and stoppers.

    The depth issue is an interesting one. The simple fact is that in most places Nottingham is way to deep. The only place that the depth change will have any affect on playboaters is in the looping pool. However, the depth is said to be, on average, 1.2m. I’m almost certain that the looping pool is one of those areas that will be deeper than this and so cause no problems for boats that are actually not much longer than 1.2m!! In the pyramid pool there aren’t any features at the moment that would need any kind of depth for a playboater. As for the muncher section, I believe that it is already quite shallow in that hole for playboating and the depth is not being changed in that hole, just on the bit just after it next to the magic roundabout.

    It was also mentioned about the shins of those people doing white water rescue courses, I think you’ll find that the first thing you learn is to swim on your back with your feet on the surface of the water, but lets face it, Nottingham will still be much safer than any natural river!

    As for the issue of a lack of water power to flip rafts, that’s just ridiculous. The increase in gradient of the course along with the shallowing of the deep areas will increase the water flow, and so in theory, increase the water power.

    As for the shallower ledges to slam your white water racer into, I simply don’t understand that statement.

    I would suggest contacting World Class and have them explain the plans a little better to you.

  2. p.s. the plans say nothing of filling in the back channels, only that they will be blocked off by gates. I’m guessing that these gates can be opened as and when the use of the back channel is requested. Maybe they would do this on weekends when there are more lower ability recreational paddlers around.

    Whoever had written this article really needs to either read the plans again or get someone to explain them.

  3. Hi Richard,

    Cheers for the feedback – it sounds like you’re as excited by these proposals as I’d like to be! I think that the main thing it shows is how much doubt and confusion this scheme is spreading.

    I’m not going to try and answer back your comments on the plans because, frankly, your guess is as good as mine. We’re all just stabbing in the dark, and that’s no basis for making changes on this scale.

    You’re right that working closely with World Class (as well as the BCU, Notts County Council, Leisure Connection and Sport England) is the way to go. That’s exactly what everyone wants – clear and open consultation.

    But despite our best efforts, that’s not what we’re getting at the moment. We’re hoping that, through public support, we can bring all water users into the process.

    Pete Cornes.

  4. I have no probs with change, but, I do have a prob with the depth at 1.2m it will not be anyware deep anoth for squirt boaters, I myself am one and i have found no were better in the north for this tipe of paddle sport. For squirt boating you need two things, a currant and deepth which hpp have now but i am afrade that if these plans are given the go ahead we will lose the deepth. You have got to remember that unless hpp is running at 1/2 and above it’s capaticy it’s no so deep in some places.

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but squirt boaters tend to us the magic roundabout these days? Maybe a compromise that you could put forward is that that eddy is left deep? The pyramid pool can definitely be shallowed out as it has now features what so ever. As for the looping pool, I think doing what they did in australia should be done straight away here. The whole pool can be made shallower, but incorporate a plunge pool where the drop will be. This would be what would happen on a natural river and would give the depth that the player boaters would need.

    Its all about compromise!!

  6. Pingback: Changes to Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont whitewater course - what’s the story? « Nottingham HPP whitewater course users group

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