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
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?
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.
Or, if you’d prefer, send a mail with your BCU/ECA/WCA/SCA/CANI number to email@example.com.
Thanks for reading this, and thanks for your support.