Tag Archives: nottingham

Wednesday 22nd October – public meeting

Wednesday 22nd October sees the second – and potentially final – public meeting about the future of Nottingham’s whitewater course at Holme Pierrepont.

Those who could make it to the first meeting will know what to expect: a frank and open debate with no punches pulled.

This time you’ll get to see how the feedback from that first debate has been taken into account, and what the final plans look like. It’s your chance to quiz the user group, course designer and BCU on the thinking behind the proposal. And – most importantly of all – the meeting will decide what happens to the course at the start of November, when it’s scheduled to close for construction.

HPP whitewater course users’ meeting. HPP rugby club, Nottingham. 7pm, Wed 22nd Oct 2008. Directions here.


Who are the whitewater course user group?

So, the plans for the whitewater course developments are in the hands of the user group. Chosen by people at the public meeting in August, they put us forward to have direct input into the design to make the developments work for all course users. The idea was that we’d discuss it, have direct input into the design and think it through in detail from all viewpoints, before deciding whether to go ahead with the project at the end of October.

So, who’s on there, and what’s everyone’s role?

Chris Hawkesworth – BCU facilities manager

Andy Laird – design consultant

Pete Orton – Valley Kayaks

Daniel Scott – Desperate Measures

Dawn and Ian Scott – Holme Pierrepont Canoe Club

Richard Chrimes – freestylist extraordinaire

Keith Hampton – safety and rescue

John Handyside – wild water racing

David Leathborough – whitewater rafting

Andy Maddock – world class slalom

Ian Bebbington – Nottinghamshire county council

Matt Chadder – recreational playboating

Pete Cornes – me – squirt boating
Over the last few weeks we’ve had quite a few more meetings down at the course, looking at ideas and possibilities.

The foundation of this is a hydrodynamic computer model of the course, calibrated against the course as it is at the moment. Andy Laird has been using this to take our feedback and include it in the design – and the next step is to take these designs back to the public and see if they’re hitting the spot.

What next?

The most important thing is a date for your diary. October 22nd at 7PM, at the Rugby Club behind the Peak UK shop. That’s the public user group meeting to look at the final plans and see if they fit the bill. We want input from as many people as possible, and I’d love to see you there…

Changes to Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont whitewater course – what’s the story?

I’ve been getting loads of calls and emails asking for a quick and dirty rundown of the story so far – so here goes…

In August, news leaked out that the whitewater course in Nottingham was going to shut down over the winter to turn it into a fast, shallow and even-gradient course for slalom canoe trainking. In fact, I might have had something to do with posting that information. The problem was that no-one had told the other people who use the course – like recreational paddlers, whitewater rafters, water safety and rescue training professionals, playboaters or wild water racers – let alone asked for their input.

So a handful of us got together to try and put over our opinion a little more forcefully. Emails, phone calls, message boards, facebook, blogs and the rest. Even a draft report (100kb PDF) to explain the needs and requirements of all the different users. We got support from nearly 600 paddlers – more than enough to call an Extraordinary Genreral Meeting of the BCU. It didn’t come to that, though, because by the end of August the BCU called a public meeting to quell speculation and present the plans.

How did the meeting go? Well, if you were there you won’t forget it. Tensions ran high among the 80 or so people who came along, and the discussion ranged from good-humoured to, well, strained… But by the end of the evening, there was a clear way forward.

It all came down to a user group – a handful of paddlers and course users who were happy to give their time and knowledge to the project to try and make sure that the project would turn out for the better. Working with Chris Hawkesworth, the BCU facilities manager, and Andy Laird, their design consultant who’s developed a complex computer model of the course, we’ve been meeting most weeks recently to try and make this project work.

Now it’s all coming to a head. We need to decide if these plans are working by the end of the month, and there’s a public meeting on Wednesday October 22nd in Nottingham to do that.

It’s at 7pm at the Rugby Club, behind the Peak UK shop at Holme Pierrepont (directions). If the course’s future matters to you, please do your best to come along and join us. I’ll post the plans up beforehand so we’ve got a good chance to get to grips with them first. And keep an eye on this blog for information in the meantime.

BCU statement

This has just landed in my inbox from Chris Hawkesworth – a statement on the process for consultation on the mooted course changes:

Holme Pierrepont – Proposed upgrade to White Water Course.


It is proposed that over this coming winter upgrade works will be carried out to the Holme Pierrepont (HPP) White Water Course (WWC). These works will be to and in the water channel and will alter some of the current water features. It is planned for the work to be completed by the end of February 2009. This upgrade work is being managed by a “Design Group” consisting of the BCU (Facilities and Performance), Sport England (SE) the proposed funders, Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC), and HPP Centre Management. Two engineering consulting firms have been appointed, EPD Ltd to look into and prepare an “In channel” design and Patrick Parsons to look into the civil engineering aspects and to prepare drawings for tender.

Prior to the current “Design group” being formed a French Company, Hydrostadium were asked by the BCU to produce initial suggestions. These suggestions for various reasons were not taken further by the BCU. In May 2008 a consultation meeting confirmed that these initial ideas were not to be pursued but a drawing remained in circulation.

This drawing of the rejected proposal was recently placed on various web sites which has created a great deal of concern, fear and comment about the upgrade proposals.

August 18th meeting.
In response to concerns raised by HPP WWC users, a public meeting was held into the proposed upgrade on the 18th of August.

Over 90 paddlers, including a member of the Press, an NCC observer, BCU and HPP Centre staff attended, of whom 80% were BCU members. A presentation of the work to the proposals to date was made by Andy Laird of EPD Ltd. The merits of the proposals both for and against and a number of serious concerns, misgivings and fears were raised and were expressed in a structured, free for all, good humoured atmosphere which lasted almost 4 hours.

The outcome of the meeting was the formation by volunteers of an HPP WWC “User group” who would meet again on the 3rd of September.

September 3rd meeting.
Originally intended to be a second and final public meeting this date was commuted to a “User group” meeting which quite by chance coincided with a £10 million HPP general upgrade announcement made that day by Nottinghamshire County Council.

The meeting started by looking at Notes taken on the 18th by Ian Scott of HPP Canoe Club. We listed by main heading each of the issues that had been raised, and included and any that had been raised since.

We then looked at what Canoe England understood to be the “Brief” given by Sport England to Andy Laird of EPD Ltd.

Andy then presented his initial drawings and detailed how he was using the “Hec-ras” computer modelling programme to model the course as it is now and how he would use it to model any of the proposed changes.

The plans that are elsewhere on this web site were projected onto a white board. Each current and proposed feature was one at a time gone into in great detail. By using felt pens to sketch their own ideas, superimpositions were made on the white board by “User group” members and in turn an undertaking was given that all the points raised would be looked into by Andy and modelled to see their effect.

Andy agreed to return to the next “User group” meeting with updated proposal drawings for each of the alternatives suggested and will also show an updated “Hec-ras” computer model for each.

There was a unanimous outcome to the meeting and the “User group” wishes to recommend to the “Design Group” a way forwards as follows:-

Consultation time scale.
September 23rd User group meeting.
October 8th        User group meeting.
October 15th      Public meeting HPP Main Centre Buildings at 7.00pm
October 30th      Latest go/no go for the contract.

Specific detailed requests.

A detailed investigation needed into the new version.
HPP WWC original designers.
George Parr and Frank Goodman are to be contacted for their comments.

A statement by the “User group” as follows:-
In order to meet the consultation aspirations of HPP WWC users, as expressed on Monday night the 18th of August and at the “User group” meeting on September 3rd and to meet the proposed “Design Group” delivery programme. The “User group” have decided to support the “Design Group” proposals to go out to tender to pre-qualified contractors with the current “Sample scheme” drawings. This will provide them and us with detailed feedback on construction cost, time scales and allow for the provisional appointment of a preferred contractor. We wish to work with that contractor in developing a final detailed design that will be acceptable by all.

By taking this “Twin-track” route, time will be allowed for structured consultation and involvement by users in the design process without delaying the procurement process time table.

Design brief to EPD Ltd.
Canoe England understands this to be that :-

“EPD Ltd has been appointed to recommend a design for an upgrade to the WWC at HPP in order to enhance the course to modern standards for Slalom Training and Competition in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games and beyond, whilst at the same time maximising the benefits of the course for other user groups”.

Members of the user group:-
Andy      Maddock        BCU Slalom*
Chris.     Hawkesworth         CE Planning and Facilities Manager*
Daniel    Scott            Desperate Measures
David     Leathborough        Rafting
Dawn     Scott            HPP Canoe Club
Ian         Bebbington        Nottinghamshire County Council*
John      Handyside        CE WWR*
Keith      Hampton        Safety and Rescue
Mark      Delaney            BCU Slalom
Matt       Chadder        Freestyle
Peter     Cornes            Freestyle
Peter     Orton            Valley Canoe Products
Richard Chrimes            Freestyle
Simon   Ricketts            HPP Centre Manager*

Andy     Laird            EPDUK Ltd* (in consultant capacity)

Note:- “User group” members marked with a “*” are also “Design Group” members.

As further details of the proposals become available they will be posted immediately on this web site.

Any enquiries to :-  chris.hawkesworth@bcu.org.uk

Holme Pierrepont plans finally revealed

Holme Pierrepont whitewater course showing the pools that will be filled in.

Holme Pierrepont whitewater course showing the pools that will be filled in.

Holme Pierrepont whitewater course as it is now

Holme Pierrepont whitewater course as it is now

Proposed changes to Holme Pierrepont whitewater course

Proposed changes to Holme Pierrepont whitewater course

Here are the plans at last for this December’s proposed changes to Holme Pierrepont. Have a look and see what you think – and please do share your thoughts in the comments box below…

A few points:

  • The proposed changes use the plastic Omniflot system, much like on the top half of the course as it is now, but with slightly different bollards
  • Much like the earlier plans, most of the deep pools are proposed to be filled in
  • There’s a proposed wall to be built across the Magic Roundabout to seperate the back channels from the main flow
  • The course above the Pyramid pool and below the bottom stopper won’t see many changes
  • This is all we’ve got so far – plans and an artist’s impression. The next stage is computer modelling.

The onus is now on the BCU to persuade the course’s users that these changes will be an improvement. I’ve offered as much help as I can afford to spread the message and to put out the facts.

We need to be able to envisage how the new course will look and perform.

We need to see successful examples of Omniflots in action that are forming the sort of playspots and river features we’re being promised.

We need to see that it’ll support and encourage rafting enough to keep the course earning money and open when it changes ownership.

In short, we’ve got a fantastic and unique facility already – we need persuading that these changes are a guaranteed improvement, rather than hurried modifications for the sake of it. Hundreds of people have pledged their support for full consultation and a deep channel course. Let’s keep up this free and open flow of information, because we need convincing.

What a difference a week makes

Last Sunday, barely anyone knew about any plans for changes to the whitewater course at Holme Pierrepont. If they did, they mostly thought it was a vague concept that wouldn’t happen for ages.

But quite a lot can happen in seven days.

Over the last week:

  • 521 people have pledged their support for a deep water course and full consultation.
  • 377 of these people are BCU members, smashing our goal of 280.
  • The users’ group has put together a full report on what the course means for recreational paddlers, rafters, playboaters, Wild Water Racers and Whitewater safety and rescue training.
  • We’ve sent this report to the BCU in lieu of an invite to today’s meeting over the course’s future.
  • The BCU have scheduled consultation meetings on 18th August and 3rd September.

We’re waiting eagerly for the BCU to publish details from today’s meeting to let everyone know what’s happening. As soon as they do, I’ll post it up here.


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 hpp.concern@googlemail.com.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks for your support.