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St Bathans Heritage and Environment Preservation Trust members Catherine Spencer and Rob Duffy said they were concerned about some recent and planned construction in the town not fitting the appearance and heritage values of St Bathans, and new design controls were vital.
They said they were "not getting anywhere" with the Central Otago District Council despite talking to council representatives "for years" about the issue.
Council planning manager David Campbell said buildings and/or alterations to the exterior of buildings in the St Bathans precinct triggered resource consent, but a recent house some residents were concerned about did not require public notification.
The Otago Daily Times has been unable to contact the owners of the property.
Mr Campbell said the council was considering developing heritage guidelines for many Central Otago towns with intact heritage areas, including St Bathans, and that would "feed into" the council's district plan review. The guidelines would be developed with the assistance of a heritage expert and "involve the community".
But Ms Spencer said waiting for the district plan review would be "too long", as the review could take years. She also criticised the council's lack of notification of recent construction in St Bathans and said there should be an opportunity for public consultation.
Ms Spencer said previous guidelines for a subdivision developed near St Bathans in 2003 would be ideal for the rest of St Bathans. A management plan for St Bathans developed in the 1980s but never adopted by the then Department of Lands and Survey could also easily be updated as a blueprint for the town.
Heritage New Zealand Otago Southland area manager Denise Anderson said St Bathans was protected in the council's district plan through various controls.
However, "ideally, these provisions in the plan need to take into account the heritage significance of the area and the significant places in it, while providing for appropriate future uses and development".
She said the review of the district plan would allow Heritage New Zealand and the wider community the opportunity to comment on controls in the plan.