Alasdair Cassels to beautify Heathcote River

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 02/10/2014
Alasdair Cassels

RIVER BEAUTIFUL: Alasdair Cassels, owner of The Tannery, wants the Heathcote River to be an attraction again.

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Christchurch developer Alasdair Cassels will invest $400,000 to revitalise part of the Heathcote River.

The project would link his $20 million Tannery complex with the river, the existing Towpath walkway out to Ferrymead and would be an attraction for locals and tourists.

Cassels said plans would be lodged with the Christchurch City Council by the end of the month and the build would be complete within a year.

The development area was adjacent to the Cumnor Tce side of The Tannery. It would include an ornate Victorian footbridge, a wharf on The Tannery riverbank and a sculpture installation in the river.

"We're going to do this with our own money and resources," he said.

"All we need is council support with planning and input from key groups."

Cassels said the idea was to link the early settler and Maori history of the area by juxtaposing sculpture, approved by Ngai Tahu, and period architecture.

As the project progressed, Cassels said he wanted to see the polluted Heathcote River cleaned up. He organised volunteer cleaning groups every six months but could only deal with rubbish, not water quality.

He called on Environment Canterbury (ECan) to crack down on polluting businesses.

ECan resource management director Kim Drummond said 30 businesses in the area were already part of a pollution prevention programme for the river.

A river-care group was also being set up with ECan funding, as the Heathcote was one of the most polluted rivers in Canterbury.

A stormwater plan for the Lower Heathcote, near The Tannery, would be developed as soon as a plan was made for the Avon River, he said.

Cassels said he would go ahead with his river scheme regardless of the pollution and hoped increased use of the area by tourists and locals would result in public pressure for cleaner river water.

"Cleaning up the river is the real problem. It's soul destroying," he said. "Once people see it's actually a river and not a drain, they'll get behind cleaning it up."

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- The Press

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