Planning improves central city safety

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In the 2023 annual residents’ survey gathered by Wellington City Council, only 43 percent of respondents said they felt safe in the central city at night (compared to 82 percent in their own neighbourhoods).

Only 39 percent of women reported feeling safe and just 27 percent of people with a permanent or temporary disability. 

Overall, the decline in those who feel safe in the central city has dropped from 76 percent in 2019 to 43 percent this year. The three top concerns are ‘threatening people / people behaving dangerously’, ‘alcohol and drug problems’ and ‘poorly lit or dark places.’ 

Police data for the year to June 2023 shows most victimisation happens in the city centre. The highest level of victimisation happens at the hospitality end of Courtenay Place on Friday and Saturday nights from 11pm to 5am. 

Read the full report

Safer by design 

Crime prevention is top of mind for Let’s Get Wellington Moving. We’re incorporating the internationally recognised principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) into our designs because the way an area is designed and built can make it safer.  

CPTED principles focus on community culture (a sense of common purpose, safe communities for all), social cohesion (positive social relations, local solutions to local problems), connectivity (linked neighbourhoods) and threshold capacity (land use and demographic diversity). 

Our urban design lead Emily Alleway says CPTED principles provide a framework aligned to national and international best practice.  

“The approach helps us design for crime prevention. It’s not just a tick-box exercise to address safety concerns. Using the CPTED process, we gather a diverse range of views and experiences to gain a deeper understanding of a place, any environmental considerations and all the activity that happens throughout the day. These factors can influence anti-social behaviours or patterns of use,” Emily says. 

“We’re collaborating with community, designers and managers of public spaces and putting people at the heart of problem-solving. All participants are playing a meaningful role in city-shaping, which strengthens community relationships and ensures the resulting changes are well-embedded, enduring and improve overall perceptions of safety and security.” 


"It’s not just a tick-box exercise to address safety concerns"

Listen to our urban design lead Emily Alleway sharing what we heard about safety in our central city spaces.

Qualities of well designed, safe places 


One of the lighting and bus stop options proposed for Courtenay Place.

The CPTED national guidelines list seven qualities for well designed, safe places: 

Read the guidelines

The Let’s Get Wellington Moving designs include reviews with a CPTED lens. Our latest review of the Courtenay Place and Lambton Quay areas made the following observations: 

Increased eyes on the street from outdoor dining and events is one strategy to make people feel safer so they stop, stay and spend their time and money.


Well-designed and well-maintained public space is an important part of making a safe inner city, impacting how it is used by people, communities and businesses. We’re working alongside Wellington City Council’s Pōneke Promise partnership to ensure a holistic approach in the central city. The Pōneke Promise is a community-driven partnership working to make central Wellington safe, vibrant and welcoming.  

Its project manager Clara Breitenmoser says safety and vibrancy are intrinsically linked.   
“The Pōneke Promise has made good progress, but there is further collaboration needed to drive action, investment and engagement.” 

“Let’s Get Wellington Moving will be a game changer for the city. We need to ensure we have a partnership approach to tackle issues and seize opportunities throughout this time, and ensure we enable and facilitate communities to support the wider rejuvenation of the central city.” 

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