News | 15 August 2023
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Creating safe, inclusive urban spaces for Pōneke

When Wellington City Council’s Urban Design team set out to establish a new public space, their focus is creating designs that are vibrant, welcoming, well-maintained, and above all else, safe.

View down Dixon Street.
Newly redesigned Dixon Street.

Manager of Public Space Design Liam Farrell often hears people express concern in the pre-engagement processes that these urban spaces will become dangerous hot spots of anti-social behaviour, especially at night. 

“We want everyone who uses our public spaces to feel comfortable and safe, which is why we proactively use frameworks adopted by the Pōneke Promise to shape their design." 

Launched in March 2021, the Pōneke Promise is a collaborative social contract that addresses the community’s concerns about safety in the city. Improving public spaces is one of the four key outcomes of the programme, which recognises the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) philosophy. 

CPTED has been the framework for the work done in Te Aro Park, with the aim to improve sightlines and access to the space, encourage more use by the public, and increase capable guardianship. 

Te Aro Park lit up pink at dawn.
Te Aro Park at dawn.

Pre-planning of our public spaces in accordance with CPTED helps to deter criminal behaviour, reduce fear of crime, and increase public perceptions of safety in our city. 
To help people feel safer going through our parks at any time of the day the team design spaces to be fully visible with multiple well-lit and accessible exits, and no dead-ends. The community is also involved in the design process so the space feels more inviting, says Liam. 

“It’s important that the community know our spaces are for public use, so we involve them in the design process to create exciting, inviting, and inclusive spaces. Creating a community sense of ownership over our public spaces is an important factor in fostering mutual respect, and a shared sense of responsibility in maintaining the space. 
However, CPTED doesn’t stop when we design our public places, as their management and maintenance are also vital. 

Our in-house Hāpai Ake Community Wellbeing team monitor our streets to help discourage anti-social behaviour and connect vulnerable people in our community with available support services, says Hāpai Ake supervisor Penoa Tuigamala. 

“We’re out there every day, striving to create a calm presence on our streets. It takes a lot of hard work to build relationships and trust in our community, our team are proud to be providing support to make people feel comfortable.” 

By focusing on the CPTED philosophy that is recognised in our Pōneke Promise initiative, we’re designing and improving our city spaces so that all residents and visitors can feel safe, included, and supported. 

You can read more about the Pōneke Promise on our website.