Penny Davies, Jim Evans and Wayne Gregson.

A PLAN to redevelop Bendigo’s historic law courts building as a major regional museum is gaining momentum.

Leaders of Bendigo’s heritage and history organisations have called on Bendigo to back the concept.

Plans to build new, fit-for-purpose law courts in Bendigo were advanced in last week’s state budget, and Court Services Victoria has also supported the move.

“We want Bendigo to start having a conversation about what happens to the Bendigo Law Courts,” Bendigo Heritage chairman Wayne Gregson said.

He and members of the Bendigo Historical Society believe its vacancy is a once-in-a-century opportunity to the establish a regional museum.

“It fits in with the whole cultural precinct, the soldiers memorial hall just down the road, the Chinese Golden Dragon Museum nearby, the Post Office Gallery, it is on the edge of Rosalind Park and the theatre,” Mr Gregson said.

“We will turn it from a building that people would not usually want to be seen dead in to one that people will be flocking to.”

There had already been widespread consultation with other groups and sector leaders such as the National Trust, La Trobe University, the Dja Dja Wurrung Association.

But there had been no talks with CSV which manages the building.

“This is the start of the conversation today, we just wanted to make sure that we are considered strongly in whatever end use is decided,” Mr Gregson said.

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke said the council was supportive of the idea of a museum being set up in some way, but it needed careful planning.

“The law courts building is not owned by the city,” she said.

“Is there other buildings that may be better suited to a museum? This should be considered.

“I understand there are many people in the community who would like to see a museum developed, including myself, but the right location and business model would be critical to its success.”