Karori Town Centre: Public Space Improvement Project 2018–2020

Creating attractive, comfortable and sheltered spaces in the town centre’s Library Square and England Lane for people to enjoy.

An artists rendering of what the new Library square will look like.

Artist impression of the Library Square and England Lane improvements. View from Karori Road into the new Library Square.


Project work involves three areas: 1) The Library Square, 2) England Lane, and 3) improving pedestrian crossings at the Parkvale Street/Karori Road intersection. 
This work builds on the vision developed by the community in 2017 for the Karori Project.

The Library Square upgrade – we aim to create an attractive, comfortable and sheltered space in front of the library and by the café. 

England Lane – we aim to enhance people’s experience as they move around the town centre. People will find better access to the Community Centre, the Arts and Craft Centre, the Recreation Centre, and the future Events Centre. 

The Parkvale Street/Karori Road pedestrians crossings will be improved.  

Current status: design phase (April–Sept 2019)

Over the next few months the Council’s Urban Design Team will be working with consultants on a design concept. The design will focus on the four shifts that Karori residents envisioned for their community (more about this on the Karori Vision 2017 page. Link provided at the end of the page).    

  • Living green – bringing nature into the city through ecological values.   
  • Connected – reducing the physical separation between the southern and northern shores caused by heavy traffic on Karori Road. 
  • Magnet – attracting people in Karori as a destination and offering the town its own unique identity. 
  • Daytime economy – supporting the local businesses.

Landscape architects, water sensitive design specialists, lighting designers, civil and structural engineers, will apply recognised design principles: 

  • Water sensitive design – to better manage stormwater  
  • Wildlife habitat design – to protect and provide shelter and better movement to wild life.     
  • Heritage 

Urban design principles that protect and improve the natural environment   

a. Water sensitive design  

Rain is collected in the city’s stormwater system. It runs off roads, car parks, paved and sealed areas. In built-up areas there is less permeable surfaces to soak up this water. Water sensitive design involves interventions and devices and considers stormwater management in parallel with ecology, community values and best practice urban design principles.  

Benefits of water sensitive design:     

  • Nature can integrate with urban design and bring balance to densification.  
  • Respect for the environment. Every action, big and small counts and can make a difference.  
  • Reduce reliance on the stormwater network with simple processes that allow water to be absorbed within the site. 
  • Improved water quality and monitoring of pollution rates. 
  • Natural water treatment options such as raingardens, permeable materials, smart slope management, and plant species that are beneficial to the environment. 

b. Wildlife habitat design 

Built in the hollow of the valley, surrounded by green hills and local wildlife, Karori is sensitive to change and urbanization. Modern development, including roads, tree felling, fences, and walls restrict the movement of wildlife. 

Excessive night-time lighting also negatively impacts animal behaviour, especially that of nocturnal animals. 

These principles consider ways to protect wildlife within the town centres: 

  • Connect and enhance habitats that predate Karori’s built environment to promote safe movement. 
  • Bring the natural landscape of the surrounding hills into the heart of Karori with native plants. 
  • Favour urban interventions that promote non-slippery pervious surfaces and natural insect shelters to increase the potential for wildlife (and people) to move around and feel safer doing so. 
  • Use street lighting that is respectful of the movements of nocturnal wildlife.  

c. Heritage 

Karori’s name means “the rope of bird snares” in te Reo. It refers to the hunting of birds before urbanisation took off around the 1840s. The town centre once had an abundance of bird life, especially around the Karori Stream, which is piped underground today. With the stream now hidden, our memory and the location of it has faded. As an important natural element of Karori’s past, it’s worth acknowledging the stream’s existence with materials and/or artwork marking its  location. It’s a great reminder of the suburb’s pre-urbanized state and that nature was once a visible feature.   

Public engagement 2018-19

From August 2018, the Urban Design Team had met with and gathered feedback from the public and Karori residents. They formed a small working group to come up with ideas that would enhance and support “Karorians” way of life. The collaboration took place over four workshops. The group comprised Karori residents from a diverse range of ages, genders, families, associations and trades. March 2019 marked the end of the public engagement and consultation process when the group met to talk about the three recognised design principles water sensitive design, wildlife habitat design and heritage.

About the project

This project builds on the work from the 2017 Karori Plan which established four ‘shifts’ to take Karori from where it is now to where it should be. 

If you aren’t familiar with the 2017 Karori Plan, you can find out more at: Karori Project 2017

Further work

The Council are also exploring other ways to create a vibrant town centre. Projects include the development of the St John’s site; and improving people and vehicle movement and safety around Karori’s town centre. We will provide more detail as it becomes available.  

More information

Urban Design team
Phone: 04 499 4444
Email: ud.karori@wcc.govt.nz