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Library and Civic Area

A summary of the work we are doing to develop a new Library and Civic Area for Napier.

Napier’s Civic Building demolition is making great progress.

Check out our video update to see where the project’s at and what the next steps are for our new Library and Civic Area.

Project Information

Since 2017, we have been investigating various options for office accommodation, governance facilities, and a new central library. In December 2017 Council approved a Statement of Proposal which would have allowed the sale of the Civic site (on the corner of Station and Hastings Streets) for a commercial use. Negotiations with an international hotel provider for the purchase of this site have now closed following a change in circumstances due to Covid-19.

A site selection process for the new Library also concluded, with Council resolving in 2019 to establish new library facilities in the city block bound by Station Street, Dalton Street and Hastings Street.  

The area where Napier’s former Civic building and library sits was a key focus for Council administrative services and governance. As such, a Steering Group was established in 2020 to oversee the vision, options exploration, and design for the future. The first phase in the delivery of this project was the creation of a Civic Precinct Framework. This sets out the vision and principles to guide the development of the masterplan for the site and surrounding area. The principles ensure that decisions made over time are consistent and values-based and take full advantage of this once in a generation opportunity to create a space that serves the needs of our community and is an engaging destination.

Council engaged with other organisations including the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Ministry of Justice, to ensure there is thinking around shared services and facilities, and to ensure that spatial design considers our neighbours and their needs.

The Civic Precinct was a working title and is now known as the Library and Civic Area Plan. We are working alongside mana whenua to appropriately name the buildings and spaces that will result from this project.

The Civic Precinct Framework sets the overarching principles and values that guide our decision-making, and establishes our commitments to the community and the environment. (Internet Explorer does not support the viewing of this document).


With the library building deemed earthquake prone, a plan for its future was needed. Work on a Library Strategy was undertaken, which involved much community consultation and was adopted by Council in December 2018. The Strategy had some key focus areas:

  • Enabling access
  • Space for all
  • Knowledge advocacy - such as supporting lifelong learning, literacy and reading
  • Community collaborators - delivering outreach programmes and using our expertise to bring benefits to areas of our community that need it most.
  • Sustainable futures.

Alongside the Library Strategy, a long-list of 16 potential sites for the library were identified and reports on their suitability were developed for each.

In April 2019, Council was presented with the site reports and it was recommended to them that further due diligence be progressed on a short-list of sites. Due diligence was completed on the top three sites in late 2019.

In March 2020 it was recommended to Council to pursue the development of the library on the block bound by Station, Dalton and Hastings Streets.

The Library Project now forms part of the Library and Civic Area Plan.

What is a civic area? 

A Civic Area houses the city’s elected leaders and administration. It can also include other community facilities such as libraries, museums, community meeting rooms, support service organisations and outdoor public gathering spaces. It often includes other government agencies such as NZ Police or the District Court, for example. 

Where is Napier’s civic area and why do we need to redevelop it? 

Up until 2017, Napier’s civic area was the city block bound by Station Street, Dalton Street and Hastings Street. It included Council’s administration and governance functions in two buildings, along with an adjoining building that housed the libraryIt was also very close to Napier District Court. 

When Council and the library moved out of their buildings due to earthquake risks in 2017the area became largely deserted. We want to create new economic activity and energy at this end of town.   

 We now have an opportunity to create fit for purpose buildings for our library, and our civic and governance activities. We are taking a financially responsible approach to this project by proposing a staged approach to development. We will prioritise our public-facing facilities first, with the library, community spaces, customer services and governance facilities forming stage one of the development. Council administrative offices will be considered later. 

Opportunities like this don’t come up often. We now have a chance to design a special place for ceremonial events and celebrations that acknowledge Napier’s history and its diverse cultures.  

What is the Library and Civic Area Plan? 

The Library and Civic Area Plan is not a detailed design. It is a plan that lays out the desired ideas for the Library and Civic Area the block bound by Hastings, Dalton and Station Streets and the surrounding area. For example, what type of spaces, buildings and activities do we want the area to include? How will we use the area? Which organisations should be housed there? 

Think of the plan as being pieces of a puzzle that fit together to best meet the needs of the different groups in our community. 

What happened to the hotel that was going to be built there? 

After the 2020 Alert Level 4 lockdown, the company proposing to develop the hotel decided not to continue with its plans. 

Why not re-strengthen the existing buildings? 

The civic bulding is being demolished, but no decisions have been made on the library tower. However, re-strengthening this building is not necessarily the cheapest or best option. We need to consider a range of factors when designing the new area. These include community activities and events that the current site is not designed to host. We want the area to become a focal point for the city that can be used for many purposes, not just buildings to house Council and the library. 

Will the library be going back to its old building? 

No. Please refer to the Library and Civic Area Plan. 

When was the civic building demolished? 

Demolition began on 1 August 2022 by Ceres New Zealand. This contractor fulfilled Council’s criteria of working in an environmentally sound and cost-effective way. Ceres used demolition techniques that maximised our ability to recycle old building materials such as timber and concrete. The demolition was carried out by the safe removal of asbestos, which then allowed the interior strip-out of the building. Large demolition excavators then worked from the south of the building to the north, demolishing the building from the top down.  

This method ensured that the new building will achieve a Green Star 5 rating from the New Zealand Green Building Council. A 5-star rating represents New Zealand excellence in a healthy and sustainable building. The Civic building was demolished in a way that ensures value for money for ratepayers, with the added benefits of being environmentally responsible. For our new library building to achieve a Green Star 5 rating, it must take into account the demolition of what previously stood there.

What will happen to the time capsule and mural?

The time capsule is carefully stored in the library tower (next to where the civic building used to be) for the time being. Plans for its long-term storage have yet to be finalised. The artwork on the wall facing east will be removed and stored for future use - exact plans have yet to be determined.

When will construction begin? 

We first need to complete the detailed design of the new building. After that, we will consult with the community on the proposed design. We have set aside $55 million for the whole development with a goal to start construction in the 2024/25 financial year. 

Will the bus stop be a part of the area? 

We are looking to improve bus transport facilities and will ensure that the library and civic area provides easy access to all modes of transport and be pedestrian and cycle friendly. We particularly want to encourage access and links to sustainable transport options. 

Will Civic Court be included in the planning? 

Civic Court on Station Street is on the edge of the library and civic area and will be considered as a key part of the plan. Wwill consider how we can positively influence the design and operation of the surrounding areas to mutually benefit both the library and civic area and the businesses and activities that take place nearby. 

Will there be residential areas included? 

Inner city living is being considered around the fringes of the library and civic area 

Who developed the Library and Civic Area Plan? 

The Library and Civic Area Plan was developed by a consortium comprising Boffa Miskell, Athfield Architects and local designer Jacob Scott in conjunction with council officersEarly engagement with key stakeholders also fed into the development of the plan. These included mana whenua, arts and culture representatives, groups representing the elderly and youth, as well as property developers, planners, architects and real estate agents. 

Why construct near the sea when there are concerns about sea level rises? 

The library and civic area is around ten metres above sea level. The current 100-year flood level along Napier’s coast is 5.7 metres above sea level. Research suggests that sea levels will rise 0.6 metres in the next 50 years, bringing a 100-year flood event level to 6.3 metres, well below ten metres.  

What about any future changes to how local government is organised? 

Any proposals about local government reform that might come into being will be factored into our considerations when detailed design begins. We know the future of local government is uncertain and that is why we are planning to focus on council administrative offices at a later stage of this project. We will develop flexible, adaptable, future-proofed buildings and spaces. 

Does Council have the option to divest the land the old Council building and library sits on? 

In 2017, Council adopted a decision to have the option to divest, either by long term lease or sale, the site on which the civic building is currently located to a private developer for commercial development. 

What are the seismic issues with the former civic and library buildings?  

The former civic and library buildings were two of the first in the country to have been assessed using a new technique introduced nationwide at the end of 2016. Seismic reports in 2017 are very different to those undertaken in 2010 prior to the Christchurch earthquake. The rules and requirements have changed since then. We undertook the seismic assessment based on the latest standards. When a building is assessed, an assessor assigns a rating to various points of a building. Under the Building Act, assessors are required to take the lowest rating and assign this to the entire building. This means that while the Civic Building has been rated at 10%, and the Library Building at 15%, not every part of each building carries this level of risk. The risk is calculated against the chance of a 1 in 1000-year earthquake event happening – this is an extremely powerful earthquake.   

Napier's new Library and Civic Area 

Community consultation on the Library and Civic Area Plan took place in October 2021, with the plan formally adopted by Council in December 2021. Demolition of the old Civic building was completed in March 2023. Next up is completion the detailed design of the new building and we'll then consult with the community on the proposed design. We have set aside $55 million for the whole development with a goal to start construction in the 2024/25 financial year. 

View the Library and Civic Area Plan here.

The Library and Civic Area Plan sets out the possibilities of what the area occupied by the former library and council buildings could look like in the future. For example, what type of spaces, buildings and activities do we want the area to include? Who should be included in it? Think of the plan as being pieces of a puzzle that show how they fit together to best meet the needs of the different groups in our community.

Design of the area plan was undertaken by a consortium comprising Boffa Miskell, Athfield Architects and Blob low reslocal architect Jacob Scott, in collaboration with council officers.

A new library will be a part of the area. Please view the plan on the link above for details.

We spoke with a range of groups to gather their thoughts on what should be in the Library and Civic Area Plan. These groups included culture and arts representatives, mana whenua, groups representing the elderly and youth, as well as property developers, planners, architects and real estate agents.

Developing the plan was a rare opportunity to design a space that is a collective expression of us and our aspirations as citizens of Ahuriri/Napier. It celebrates our cultural values and unique history.

Our desire is for Napier's Library and Civic Area to create energy in what is now a quiet and struggling part of the city. It will help to stimulate economic activity in this area of the city and encourage growth in new businesses and business confidence. We want it to be a safe and inclusive community gathering place for all ages, abilities and cultures.

We anticipate that the new Library and Civic Area will be a special place for ceremonial events and celebrations that acknowledge Napier’s history and its diverse cultures.

A key focus of the Library and Civic Area is that it will be accessible to all modes of transport and be pedestrian and cycle friendly. There will also be good connections to the central city, Marine Parade and adjacent commercial and residential areas.

Civic Court is on the edge of the Library and Civic Area and will be considered as a key part of the plan. We will consider how we can positively influence the design and operation of the surrounding areas to mutually benefit both the Library and Civic Area and the businesses and activities that take place nearby.  

View some sample images that show how buildings and spaces might relate to each other, and the experiences we hope to create in our new Library and Civic Area. 

We have set aside $55 million for the whole development with a goal to start construction in 2024/25.

A design brief is being undertaken by Athfield Architects and a business case is being developed by Habilis.


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