Kevin McCloud suggested the Avon River become a transport waterway (file)
The blueprint for Christchurch's earthquake recovery has been given a thumbs-down by British design expert Kevin McCloud, saying it lacks "a serious dose of people power".
The Grand Designs presenter, in an open letter to the city, said the blueprint excluded people from taking part in the rebuild.
Government control of the central city redevelopment suggested "an over-arching hidden hand controlling design and development in the core", he wrote in the letter published by Fairfax Media.
"The plan is ambitious but, given human nature and the natural course of events, the resulting rebuilt city will inevitably have several degrees of compromise built into it.
"The path to achieving the very best possible is to involve the people who will populate the place and make it their own."McCloud, who is judging a design competition called Breathe for new housing in the city, said new city zones could restrict development.
"The problem with zoning is that it so often works as a straitjacket, and it's another reason why local say and community involvement are so important."
Instead there should be different building heights and massing for different areas to encourage a mix of residential, commercial and residential, he said.
"It's all down to the accidental, the seeding of places with lots of mixed uses and the creation of the connective tissue of sustainability."
He also called for consideration of public food-growing areas and suggested the Avon River could become a busy transport waterway.