Nottingham City Council and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) are in discussions over the future of the Nottingham Tennis Centre. Under the plans that are being put out for public consultation in August, the LTA would take over the lease in order to secure its future, protect it as a key grass-court tournament venue and make further investments to develop the facility into a world-class tennis training and competition base, while retaining community and public tennis facilities.
Nottingham Tennis Centre is one of Britain’s most important tournament and tennis venues, with eight indoor courts, 19 outdoor hard courts and 13 grass courts including its show court. It currently hosts the Nottingham Open WTA event, and the Nottingham ATP Challenger event, the British Wheelchair Open as well as a Junior National Tournament, and the National Schools Championships.
In December 2019, the City Council announced the need to find savings of £15.8 million in its 2020 budget. It was then, the council announced the plans to look for an operator for the Nottingham Tennis Centre which would remove any operating subsidy from the site. Under these proposals, the City Council would retain ownership of the site, but the LTA would take a long-term lease and operate the centre.
Under the plans, there would be a strong community programme which would include increased opportunities to play and learn tennis for adults, children, and those with disabilities. Before lockdown, Nottingham Tennis Centre was working with 60 schools with over 9,000 young people taking part in tennis sessions. From this, over 350 pupils joined the Play Tennis coaching programme. Prior to Covid 19, the centre had 1,000 junior players. The centre is also used for tennis coach education, and by The University of Nottingham to deliver their tennis programme as an LTA Regional Player Development Centre. This Performance Squad partnership saw the University of Nottingham win the LTA University of the Year.
In 2017, the centre’s grounds team was named Professional Tennis Grounds Team of the Year at the prestigious Institute of Groundsmanship Awards and is known for training new staff and offering valuable tournament experience. Under the proposals, tournament activities would continue and the LTA has plans to invest in the centre to increase the number of international events taking place, alongside a larger number of national and junior international tournaments. The current tournaments have a strong schools programme and participation offer.
While putting the city on the map, research shows that events can bring positive economic benefits for cities including a boost for hospitality with extra hotel stays and people eating and drinking out. There is potential for increased tourism, as well as more retail spending.
Under the proposed changes the on-site gym area will no longer be accessible as part of the Nottingham City Council Flexible Fitness Membership Scheme. However; gym, fitness classes, and health suite facilities would continue to be available across other Nottingham City Council Nottingham Leisure Centres, and these would be accessible as part of the Pay and Play and Flexible Fitness membership schemes.
This move is seen as the latest extension of the 30-year working relationship between Nottingham City Council and the LTA and will now be subject to consultation and further discussions with the intention of concluding the process before the end of the year.
As these options are worked through and considered more closely, the project enters the consultation phase, and the centre will continue to operate its existing programme of activities. Further communications will be sent out to members and facility users in the autumn outlining what this means to them once the consultation period has closed and regular updates will be posted in the centre and at the project website https://www.activenottingham.com/nottingham-tennis-centre-transfer-2021
To provide feedback please visit Nottingham Tennis Centre Transfer – Nottingham City Council for FAQ content and link to a feedback/question form.
Cllr Eunice Campbell-Clark – Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, and Schools said: “This is an exciting time for us and for the LTA as we start to explore what could be a fantastic project for the city and for the development of tennis. A great deal of valuable work has taken place at the centre already and we are now ready to start looking at how we can build on this and progress to ever-higher levels and standards. We look forward to working closely with the LTA over the next few months in the hope we can set up a great future for Nottingham Tennis Centre.
“While there is some work to do and some consultation to take place before we can explain any plans in more detail, I would urge people to keep an eye on the project website for the latest updates, and to use the feedback form to ask any questions we have not covered or to make any comments about the plans.”
Gary Stewart, LTA Head of Operations, said: “Nottingham is one of the leading grass court venues in this country, and a premier venue that provides excellent training facilities, an international tournament venue and a hub for domestic competitions. We want to protect and enhance the site and importantly continue its work as one of the largest providers of community tennis in the country.”