University: Leith flood protection scheme and landscaping

Water of Leith - University Registry area (] screenshot

Proposed landscaping within the university’s heritage precinct. The St David St footbridge will be extended. [graphic via ODT]

### ODT Online Wed, 24 Jul 2013
Registry stretch of Leith set for summer revamp
By Rebecca Fox
The stretch of the Water of Leith in front of the University of Otago’s registry building looks set to get a multimillion-dollar makeover this summer. Students, staff and visitors could soon be able to walk along grassy verges next to lowered banks of the river, from the St David St footbridge to the Union St bridge, if a design plan is approved at an Otago Regional Council committee meeting tomorrow.
It has been about seven years since the council and the university signed an agreement to work together to produce a plan to suit the council’s need for flood protection and the university’s need for an aesthetic look in front of its historic registry building.
The council had budgeted $5.4 million over the next 12 months for the work. The university and the council are each to fund half the cost of the aesthetic work.
Among the work to be endorsed by the committee is the lowering of most of the concrete wall on the east bank, extending the footbridge, cutting down the west bank and landscaping and footpath redevelopment.
Read more

Related Posts and Comments:
27.5.13 Carisbrook and Leith flood protection
17.11.10 Leith Lindsay Flood Protection Scheme
17.5.10 Campus Master Plan
28.1.10 University of Otago Campus Master Plan

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Media, Name, NZHPT, ORC, Project management, Property, Site, Tourism, Town planning, University of Otago, Urban design, What stadium

42 responses to “University: Leith flood protection scheme and landscaping

  1. ### July 24, 2013 – 7:16pm
    Flood protection scheme heads into next stage
    The latest stage of the multi-million dollar Leith flood protection scheme will soon begin.

  2. ### ODT Online Fri, 26 Jul 2013
    Plans to ensure Leith works on time
    By Rebecca Fox
    Plans are already being made to ensure the flood protection works in front of the University of Otago’s registry building do not go over deadline, Otago Regional Council director Gavin Palmer says.
    Councillors yesterday challenged the engineering and hazards director on how the council would ensure the multimillion-dollar project did not encounter the same delays as the Leith footbridge to Forth St flood protection work.
    Its new completion date was September 9, about six months after its original deadline.
    Read more

  3. ### ODT Online Mon, 29 Jul 2013
    University expects to pay $204,000 on Leith
    By Rebecca Fox
    The University of Otago will contribute an estimated $204,000 to beautify the banks of the Water of Leith as part of flood protection work.
    Work to increase the flood-carrying capacity of the Leith from St David St to Union St was approved to go out for tender.
    The Otago Regional Council had budgeted $5.4 million for the project, scheduled to take place in front of the university’s registry building over the summer. Its funds for the work come from targeted rates on homes and businesses in Dunedin city but not the university as it was a non-rateable property owner.
    University chief operating officer John Patrick said under a flood protection works design, construction and maintenance agreement, the university and regional council had agreed the university would contribute to the costs of the scheme, recognising the increased amenity value it would bring to the campus.
    Read more

  4. Art Beat by Peter Entwisle
    Mitigating Leith floodwork aesthetics
    Never trust an artist’s impression of any proposed new development.

  5. ### ODT Online Sun, 8 Dec 2013
    Uni request delays Leith flood works
    By Rebecca Fox
    Further flood protection work on the Water of Leith has been delayed, following requests from the University of Otago. […] University Property Services director Barry MacKay said the university had requested an agreement with the regional council that was based on the 2007 memorandum of understanding ”that ensures the quality of the end product, the timing and duration of the works, and ownership and maintenance of the final completed works”.
    Read more

  6. ### ODT Online Sun, 5 Jan 2014
    Leith flood work delayed
    By Rebecca Fox
    A final decision on when work will begin on the next stage of the Water of Leith flood protection project has yet to be made. Work to widen the stretch of the Leith in front of the University of Otago registry to increase flood-carrying capacity had been due to start in November.
    Read more

    • ### ODT Online Fri, 17 Jan 2014
      Leith flood protection work starts
      By Rebecca Fox
      Otago Regional Council engineering, natural hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said Downer New Zealand Ltd was awarded the contract for the latest stage of flood protection work on the Leith, between the St David St and Union St bridges.
      Access to the St David St bridge would be restricted at times during the work as it was to be extended, but the Union St bridge would remain open throughout. The work is due to be completed by the end of May.
      Read more

  7. ### January 20, 2014 – 6:44pm
    Flood protection work hits the Water of Leith
    Work is in full swing at the Water of Leith by the University of Otago clock tower, as the ORC moves into the latest stage of flood protection work.

  8. Not clear on what really scaled this one back – I would have thought university budget constraints (or in-house university council politics of roman-sandled academic aethetics) rather than any inconvenience to students – the east bank isn’t a walkway…..

    ### ODT Online Fri, 31 Jan 2014
    Work scaled back on east bank of Leith
    By Rebecca Fox
    Plans to improve the ”aesthetics” of the University of Otago area in front of its historic registry building have been abandoned in order to minimise disruption to students and staff during construction work on the Water of Leith in coming months. As part of the Otago Regional Council’s Water of Leith flood protection works in front of the registry, the university had originally asked for the concrete channel on the east bank of the river to be dropped and the bank relandscaped.
    Read more

  9. ### ODT Online Tue, 25 Feb 2014
    One step at a time
    [ODT photo] The large walls lining the Water of Leith opposite the University of Otago’s registry building comes down as part of flood protection works.
    Otago Regional Council engineering, hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said the wall was coming down to just above the existing stream bed.
    Read more

  10. ### ODT Online Fri, 14 Mar 2014
    ORC having to pay for temporary bridge
    By Rebecca Fox
    The Otago Regional Council is being forced to spend more than $100,000 on a temporary footbridge across the Water of Leith when at least two other options for crossing the waterway are nearby.
    As part of its $5.4 million flood protection works along the Leith in front of the University of Otago’s registry building, it is extending and modifying the St David St bridge to allow for the stream to be widened to take greater flood flows.
    Read more

  11. $100,000 for a bridge for about 3 months! Alternatives are about five minutes (maximum) extra either way to Dundas St or Union St. That the University sees fit to insist on this extravagance is mind boggling arrogance. Worse, the ORC in conceding that point and expending $100,000 of ratepayers’ treasure in indulging these precious prats is crass mismanagement. But hey! No matter, it’s not our money and it truly does grow on trees. Just look at anything that the University does, note any sign of financial prudence?

  12. Hype O'Thermia

    Too many rules that have no relation to sense, that’s what happened to our once No8, give it a go, just do it NZ. Some constraints are necessary but for goodness’ sake, let them be modifiable according to need and sense.

  13. ### ODT Online Thu, 27 Mar 2014
    Graduated Leith access takes shape
    By John Gibb
    A new northward vista is emerging as flood protection work continues on the west bank of the Water of Leith, near the University of Otago clocktower building. Photo by Gerard O’Brien. The western bank of the Water of Leith, opposite the University of Otago clocktower building, is being reshaped as the latest phase of flood protection work continues.
    Otago Regional Council engineering, hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said the work, by main contractor Downer New Zealand Ltd, was ”well under way”, between the St David St and Union St bridges.
    Read more + Photo

  14. ### ODT Online Tue, 13 May 2014
    Pouring on the effort at the St David St footbridge
    By Rebecca Fox
    Concrete was poured yesterday as work to extend the St David St footbridge continued as part of flood protection works on the Water of Leith.
    Read more + Image

  15. Elizabeth

    $5.4 million being spent on lowering concrete wall on west side of Leith in front of Registry Building and extending span of St David St footbridge.

    ### ODT Online Fri, 18 Jul 2014
    Footing issues, rain hinder progress
    By Rebecca Fox
    Wet weather and underground surprises have slowed work on the multimillion-dollar makeover of the stretch of the Water of Leith in front of the University of Otago’s registry building. Work was progressing as fast as ”practicable”, Otago Regional Council engineering, hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said. However, he could not confirm if the work would be finished by an August deadline.
    Read more

  16. Elizabeth

    Lovely afternoon wending my way along banks of Leith to view how shockingly bad the ORC/University landscaping effort is from west of Forth St to Montgomery Ave.
    [phone camera images to be uploaded later]

    ### July 24, 2014 – 5:50pm
    Montgomery Avenue and part of Leith Street to close
    Dunedin City Councillors have voted to formally close Montgomery Avenue and part of Leith Street, to enable flood protection works.

  17. Elizabeth

    Water of Leith, the wrecked stream
    My cameraphone tribute to ORC and University negligence and overspending

    Leith Forth St bridge 24.7.14 View to Forth St bridge and the dreadful white blob, shadowed by Commerce

    Hall Bros 2 Leith 24.7Hall Bros Leith 24.7.14Leith 3 channel 24.7.14Looking north from the Registry lawn, Hall Bros at work

    St David St bridge 24.7.14 (1a)Extending the support to Saint David St bridge

    Leith temporary bridge 24.7.14Temporary bridge at Saint David St

    Leith Science 24.7.14 (1)Leith Richardson 24.7.14Looking south as the channel follows Castle St past the Staff Club and Richardson Building

    Depressing (if not in late afternoon sunshine) !!

  18. Peter.

    Any beautiication is good, but the horse may have bolted down near the Art School end of the Leith. The buildings there are incredibly ugly and I feel like I am looking at Slough from the TV serries, The Office. A shame, really.

  19. Elizabeth

    I agree about beautifying streams but not by bringing in design elements and landscaping that won’t hold up to the force of water during heavy rainfall – the lawn edging is in tatters at Stage 1.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      The lawn edging was stupid to an astronomical degree. Someone hasn’t been outdoors, anywhere near a waterway, during a period of and following heavy rain. You’d hardly credit it, would you – in NZ, a country noted (by Sir Geoffrey Palmer no less) for being pluvial as all get-out.

  20. Carol

    When I lived in NEV, I had to pay extra ORC rates for a flood protection scheme for a few years that didn’t even go ahead. Yet my money was never refunded. I suspected then and still believe that the money that the ORC raked in from the residents of NEV was to go towards the beautification of the university, not to protect residential properties in NEV.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      You’re not the only one who was spitting tacks over that “tax”, Carol. Esp when ORC was so flush it could make a sizeable contribution to the let’s-pretend wealth creating fantasy “Fubar the White Elephant”.

  21. An excellent relief work scheme, just like in the great depression. Bureaucrats never saw a situation they couldn’t make better with a few $million. The last really damagingly big flood was 1929, flooded a lot of north Dunedin. The same event would do the same again, as the trouble starts way upstream of both the Leith and Lindsay streams. There are bottlenecks all along the courses, and as Carol says NEValley has been left out, and that’s where it happens. Still it keeps the sods off the streets.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      From personal experience – lifting ancient carpet over lino over newspaper in house in area that had to pay extra ORC rates because of specifically benefitting from not being flooded. Newspaper 1947 dates was in excellent condition with no rust marks from nails, indicating they had not been affected by water under the house even though it was built low to the ground.
      The flood of 1929 was followed by creation of the channelling of Lindsays Creek down by the bowling club >> Craigleith St and other works. Most NEV flooding is from the stormwater drains that make fountains along North Road, which at least cleans the gratings for a change. Leith Street also was altered a great deal, and the fishermen’s cottages down beside it, more or less opposite Greggs, went to make way for this work. At least, that’s what my mother told me.

  22. Sally

    Has the council gone through the publicly notified road stopping exercise before they closed this road ?

  23. Carol

    Does anyone remember when the ORC bought property for the Lindsay-Leith flood protection scheme? One of these properties was 57 Selwyn Street NEV. It’s on the ORC’s list as being one of the most contaminated sites in Otago. But that didn’t stop them from renting it out to a young couple and their children.

  24. Carol

    I apologize for getting a bit off topic from the Lindsay-Leith flood protection scheme. But I have just looked up the Ministry for the Environments webpage on how to find out and what to do if land is contaminated. And it said to first contact your regional council. It didn’t explain what to do next if your regional council owns the contaminated land.

    {See these links. If in doubt speak directly with ORC wrt Otago Regional Plan. -Eds}

    Responsibility for Implementation
    All of New Zealand’s territorial (district and city) councils will be responsible for the implementation of the RMA under section 31(1) (B) (iia). This allows them to control any actual or potential effects from the use, development, subdivision and the use of contaminated land, also to prevent or mitigate any adverse effects of the development, subdivision or the use of contaminated land.

    Click to access 5.%20Contaminated%20Sites.pdf

  25. Elizabeth

    ### October 1, 2014 – 5:44pm
    Permanent bridge across the Leith opens
    A major milestone has been reached in the Water of Leith flood protection and drainage scheme. A new permanent bridge across the Leith has been opened. And work is now under way on the next stage of the multi-million dollar project.

  26. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Fri, 21 Nov 2014
    Leith works good but too slow
    By Vaughan Elder
    The University of Otago is happy with the Water of Leith flood protection work but not with how the project has dragged out past finish dates.
    When the Otago Regional Council started construction in January, it said the $5.5 million schedule of work was due to be completed by the end of May, but contractors overshot that deadline and remain at the university campus trying to complete finishing touches.
    Read more

  27. Carol

    If the University had contributed towards the costs of the flood protection scheme, it may have been completed quicker. They got it for nothing and they’re still complaining.

  28. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Thu, 18 Jun 2015
    Bridge abutment repaired
    An excavator begins urgent repair work on the pedestrian bridge over the Water of Leith yesterday after it sustained flood damage. A University of Otago spokesman said the flood exposed foundations of the left bank abutment of the bridge in St David St.
    Read more

  29. Elizabeth

    The flood protection scheme through the campus area looks to be the worst that could ever have been designed. Oh wait. It isn’t designed. Clueless clots THINK they know how to do flood protection and landscape architecture.

    ### ODT Online Tue, 5 Jan 2016
    Flood scheme next stage set to start
    Work is due to start this month, mostly near the University of Otago clocktower, on the next phase of the Leith flood protection scheme improvements in north Dunedin. […] This section of the protection scheme includes all of Montgomery Ave, and part of the western side of Leith St from Dundas St to the St David St footbridge.
    Read more


    [updated comment 18.1.16]

    ### Mon, 11 Jan 2016
    More flood protection work set to start
    Work on the next phase of the Leith flood protection scheme is due to get under way this month. An Otago Regional Council budget of $3.61M will be used to complete this part of the project. The work will take place mostly near the University of Otago clocktower building, and will include channel widening, walkway construction and further landscaping. Contractors will be on site from January through to May.
    Ch39 + Video

  30. Elizabeth

    See ODT photo by Gerard O’Brien: Flood protection work continues in and near the Water of Leith, beside Montgomery Ave, in Dunedin.

    Wed, 20 Apr 2016
    ODT: Leith protection work continues
    The work is part of the Otago Regional Council’s flood-protection project. This latest phase includes all of Montgomery Ave and part of the western side of Leith St from Dundas St to the St David St footbridge. Council engineering, hazards and science director Dr Gavin Palmer earlier said the latest work would include widening the existing Leith channel and constructing a walkway along Montgomery Ave, as well as providing public access to a beach downstream from the Dundas St bridge and further landscaping.

  31. Elizabeth

    Leith works map [ORC]

    Otago Regional Council – Media Release Link
    Next stage of Leith flood protection works due to start

    Monday, 06 March 2017

    Siteworks begin on Wednesday (March 8) for the next stage of the Otago Regional Council (ORC)’s Leith Flood Protection Scheme, between the Union Street bridge and Clyde Street.

    The main build contractor is Downer Group.

    The new works are part of the scheduled flood protection programme for 2017, and will help improve the river’s safety and amenity value at the ‘University Bend’ reach. Improvements include:
    ● Raising the wall along the right bank
    ● Putting in a new retaining wall along the left bank
    ● Stabilising the river bed and channel walls
    ● Providing public access to the river bed and terraces along part of the left bank.

    Due to the nature of the works, disruptions from noise are likely. However, ORC and the university have agreed on noise limits and these will be maintained as much as possible.

    Pedestrian access will remain open at the following locations, with short closures from time to time:
    ● ITS building
    ● Leith St Footbridge
    ● Back entrance of Richardson Building

    Access behind Richardson Building through to Union Street Bridge will be closed.

    The Albany Street car park will remain open, but there will be some temporary loss of car parking along Clyde Street for site access.

    Works on the left bank will cross over into the Memorial Garden. All necessary care will be taken to preserve the dedicated trees and any trees removed will not be dedicated trees.

    ORC director engineering, hazards, and science Dr Gavin Palmer said the council is responsible for ensuring the river has the capacity to cope with high flood waters and help keep the campus and city safe from flooding.

    “These upcoming works will continue to expand on the previous protection works done on campus, providing a safer and more enjoyable environment for everyone,” Dr Palmer said.

    More information about the scheme and the history behind the works is available at

    For further information contact
    Dr Gavin Palmer
    Director engineering, hazards, and science
    Ph 0800 474082 or 0274 933960
    Communications contact
    Mark Peart
    Team Leader Communications – Channels
    Ph 0800 474082 or 027 5312620
    Email: mark.peart


    Tue, 7 Mar 2017
    ODT: Leith flood protection work set to start
    By John Lewis
    Work on the next stage of the Otago Regional Council’s Leith Flood Protection Scheme, between the Union St bridge and Clyde St, is expected to begin on Wednesday. The $3.5 million works, to be completed by Downer Group, are part of the scheduled flood protection programme for 2017, and will help improve the river’s safety and amenity value at the “University Bend” reach. Cont/

  32. Elizabeth

    Thu, 13 Jul 2017
    Flood protection work continues
    By John Gibb
    Contractors continue work on the Otago Regional Council’s Leith Flood Protection Scheme this week […] Downer Group is the main build contractor for the latest phase of the work, between Union St and the Leith St footbridge. Adverse weather in April and [an] asbestos discovery had contributed to a later completion time. Cont/

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