Thursday 4 December 2014 11:42am
The Leith redevelopment (clockwise from top left) before, during and after.
The transformation of the section of the Leith flowing past the University of Otago’s iconic Clocktower building is complete after a major 12-month construction project.
The river and its verges are being progressively upgraded as part of the Otago Regional Council’s (ORC’s) flood protection scheme.
The work on this section has included several features which enhance the University’s campus environment. Not only have the banks and riverbed been improved to prevent flooding, but new terracing, steps leading down towards the river and a footpath vastly improve public access to the previously unapproachable but picturesque Leith.
"This has produced many challenges for both parties, but our relationship has been collaborative throughout, and this is reflected in the high quality of the completed works."
The development aligns with the goals of the University’s own Landscape Master Plan for the centre of the campus.
Otago Regional Council Director of Engineering, Hazards and Science Dr Gavin Palmer says the significant engineering work underneath the new planting and bluestone wall facing gives the University an added measure of flood security.
Dr Palmer says the ORC was pleased that new features such as the new period railings ‘framing’ the view of the Clocktower, and the much improved access to the water’s edge would add much to the campus’ attractiveness.
University Project Manager Christian German says it has been a complex project for the ORC and the University, balancing flood protection engineering requirements with aesthetic and heritage needs.
“This has produced many challenges for both parties, but our relationship has been collaborative throughout, and this is reflected in the high quality of the completed works.”
Mr German says the University appreciates ORC’s good management of the project which has helped staff cope well with the work during the past 12 months and there have been few complaints.
The section of the river alongside Montgomery Avenue is up next for flood protection with work due to start in the next 12 months. In about two years work is due to start on the Leith Walk section beneath the Information Technology Services (ITS) building.