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"Heritage enthusiast" Julie Walker, who owns Lawrence's 149-year-old former town hall in Ross Pl, has called a public meeting on Friday, to discuss residents' concerns over development of the neighbouring section.
David Latta Builders, of Balclutha, began work on a new "commercial building" on the site last month, and Mrs Walker quickly became concerned about its possible effects on the town's gold rush heritage streetscape, dating to the 1860s.
When she obtained the building plans from Clutha District Council, she said she was "shocked" at its "disrespectful" design.
"It's a shed, basically.
"Lawrence is one of Otago's earliest and most significant heritage towns, and here we have a building going up whose street appeal is arguably zero.
"Not only is its design disrespectful of adjoining historic buildings, but also its location, right opposite the entrance to Gabriels Gully.
"You question how something like this was rubber-stamped."
Project manager David Latta, overseeing the project for site owner Don Conway, of Wyndham, said the designs had been "misconstrued".
"I think [Mrs Walker] has gained a mistaken impression from the basic building plans.
"We're not doing anything different here from several of the buildings on Ross Pl, which are essentially sheds with a shop frontage."
Mr Conway confirmed this was the case, saying he hoped to "enhance" Lawrence's streetscape with his new enterprise, although he would not reveal its purpose.
"We've an established history of similar award-winning businesses across the South, and are looking forward to placing a considerable investment in Lawrence.
"We've always planned for a frontage in keeping with the historic streetscape here, and have already made several compromises in building design to comply with regulations.
"Unfortunately this is the only place the building can go [to comply with zoning]."
A public meeting regarding the project, hosted by Mrs Walker, will be held at 6pm on Friday, at the Elim Church Hall.