Article from Park News – November 2023

Bowl Problems.  

We’ve been writing articles about how to resolve ‘The Bowl Problem’ for 15 years now and it feels we’ve made little progress. We can explain why that is the case easier than we can suggest a resolution, but there are now some new options to consider, so this is something we need to discuss – again. 

For those coming to this afresh, a quick recap. The Bowl is the area of land in the centre of The Park owned by the NLTA (Nottingham Lawn Tennis Association). It’s roughly divided into three equal areas with the Park Tennis Club at the south end, a middle site that is currently unused, and the north end with another three unused grass courts, three hard courts used by the Castle Tennis Club and the fenced off ‘Paddock’, a wooded area ‘up the hill’. 

So – not a lot of use being made of a site with huge potential, but the longer this has gone on, the more we’ve got comfortable with its peaceful underuse. But that’s not a viable solution going forwards, and neither is 17 tennis courts, so the NLTA have been trying to find alternative uses for those underused areas. Historically, the rental income from each of the three sites  has been around £6000 p.a, which means it shouldn’t be impossible for us to come up with some solutions that generate a realistic income from activities that are beneficial to us as residents, that do not meet with undue resistance from those living around the Bowl, and do not contravene the restrictive covenant that exists to limit its use to ‘recreational activities and ancillary purposes’. 

Easy as that may sound, we’ve not succeeded in that quest yet, but there are now moves afoot to introduce Padel Tennis to the Bowl which may mean we’ve missed the moment anyway. Padel Tennis is a fast growing sport that has taken Spain and other countries by storm and is now growing in popularity here. It’s a cross between tennis and squash, played on a glass backed court with cages curved over above these to prevent the ball escaping. The LTA originally saw Padel Tennis as competition to be resisted, but has now decided to promote the game, and the NLTA has been approached by a company who want to install 4 floodlit courts on the middle plot of the Bowl. They recently held an ‘unpublicised public meeting’ in The Park, at which the response from those residents who attended – mostly those living nearby who we had leafletted the day before when we were notified of it through a conversation on Facebook – was almost universally negative, but the Padel Tennis company are proceeding with their planning application nonetheless. There will be an income from this for the NLTA that is far above anything previously achieved so they are keen for it to succeed, and the NPEL are also keen to see a viable use for the Bowl going forwards that secures it against the threat of a developer attempting to break the restrictive covenant.

The NPRA’s role in situations like this is to inform residents, add context, gather feedback and represent the views of all members who participate in the conversation. So far that’s only been a small number of residents who live around the Bowl, but the proposals being put forward, and any alternatives that we as residents might want to propose ourselves, affect us all to some extent, whether that be financially, socially or emotionally.

So, where does that leave us? Ultimately, it will be for the Planning Authority to decide whether or not to approve the Padel Tennis scheme, and although they will consider objections from Park residents, these do not always sway their decision. The reasons for concern are the noise, which, depending on where you get your evidence is either similar to tennis or 10 times louder (a study by the Dutch Noise Nuisance Foundation), the floodlighting, which we understand will be on fixed masts, unlike the Park Tennis Club’s very expensive and less obtrusive retractable lights (the higher the mast, the less light spread due to the angle the lamps can be set at), and the parking required by those coming to play by car. It’s a doubles game, so a maximum of 16 people playing at any one time on four courts, plus the inevitable crossover period. The parking issue is no different to that of the Park Tennis Club to be fair, but these are the issues we need to be considering, alongside any possible alternatives that might be worth discussing whilst we still have the chance.  

The reality is the NLTA need an income from the Bowl, and to some extent that’s to secure it against any attempt to undermine the restrictive covenant protecting it from residential development. Enforcing a covenant on an underused site is harder than on one that is being made good use of in ways that reflect the covenant’s intentions, so the current situation is not a viable option despite that being the least contentious for most people living nearby. As you’ve probably gathered there’s now quite a back story to this and a lot more information to digest before being fully up to speed with what the best course of action going forwards would be. If you want to find out more, visit our website at where we’ve got a Bowl FAQ page. 

So, having said all that, what we’re proposing is an open survey of residents’ opinions on Padel tennis together with a number of alternatives that we have been considering, plus anything else that anyone would like to put forward. The conditions for any suggestions are that they have to comply with the restrictive covenant, they have to raise at least £6k p.a. in rental income per site for the foreseeable future, and they have to be solutions that you would be comfortable with living next to yourself – it’s a simple measure and one that we’d hope most people would consider a reasonable test to apply. That’s our conditions – the NLTA may well have others we are not aware of, but we have to start somewhere if we want to negotiate some form of long term lease agreement to protect the Bowl for uses we feel bring the most benefit to the Park Estate and its residents.

We will be emailing all NPRA members with a survey form in the coming weeks, so if you’re not yet an NPRA member – a lot of people think they are who either were once or mix up our membership with the NPEL’s – please go to our website ( to check your status and join / rejoin if necessary. The more representative we are, the more influence we can have on issues that affect us all. It’s a £10 a year subscription, and there are many campaigns, activities and events we organise that, unless they make it into the Park News which we deliver to everyone regardless, you might not be hearing about. 

Below are a few articles which we have found on Padel Tennis. If you have any that you would like to add then get in touch and we will add them to the below.

Padel Tennis articles

Padel is more popular than ever. Almost every tennis club has already set up padel courts or is at least thinking about it. There is only one problem: padel seems to generate far more noise nuisance than tennis. DOX Noise Control acoustic solutions can resolve this issue.

Experience has shown that the best solution is a sound wall placed directly near the padel court. It does need to be high, with a recommended height of 4 meters given the nature and intensity of the noise.

A special task force initiated by the Dutch Tennis Association (KNLTB), has produced some ‘Padel and noise’ guidelines. One of the recommendations it makes is to place padel courts at least 100m away from residential properties.

“The one existing padel court is noticeably louder than any of the existing courts. The noise of the ball on the racket or on the glass surround can be like gunfire. Simply put that existing court already spoils my enjoyment of my back garden. We fail to see how a four-metre high acoustic fence will reduce the noise level to that of the existing single court.”

The Dutch tennis and padel association, specialist builders and anti-noise campaigners have agreed new recommendations for the construction of padel courts, following numerous complaints, the AD reported on Tuesday.

The recommendations state that new padel courts must be built no closer to homes than 100 metres, and in some case up to 160 metres away.