A New Zealander has moved to Oxford's Blackbird Leys estate in the hope of changing it.

Becky Kiddle, 31, who comes from the idyllic village of Havelock North in the Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand's North Island, moved to Oxford in 2005 to study for a Master's degree in urban design at Oxford Brookes University.

She visited Blackbird Leys within weeks of arriving - and ever since has been fascinated with how improving its urban design could help change it for the better.

So keen is she to make a difference, she has left her student halls of residence and now lives in Pegasus Road on the estate.

The Maori, who has connections to the Nga Puhi and Ngati Porou tribes, said: "During my Master's I got to know the area and also its reputation, so when I was offered the chance to stay on and do a PhD in urban design I thought 'if I'm staying here I want to contribute to the community'.

"I moved to Pegasus Road so I could get to know the people and the community better. Quite often the best ideas come from people in the neighbourhood. They know how the area works and what would be good."

Ms Kiddle completed her Master's last September and recently won a £500 award from Oxford estate agents Savills for outstanding performance on the course.

She believes there is a need to improve public space on the estate and is working with the Blackbird Leys youth club, Youth First, to encourage young people in the area to get involved in urban design.

She said: "I love living here. People are really helpful and friendly and always say hello'. The area gets a much worse press than it deserves. It's certainly not deserving of its reputation.

"I would like to help give young people in the area the skills in urban design to help them understand their neighbourhood and see if they can come up with some designs on how they might like to see their neighbourhood improve."

Ms Kiddle said the youth group was looking for funding to run an urban design training course.

She said: "We would like to get funding so we can set up an urban design consultancy for young people which ultimately would present its suggestions to the city council."

Brian Lester, who served on the estate's parish council for more than a decade before resigning because of the apathy of local residents, said: "I would suggest this lady saves her time and energy. The people just aren't interested."