COUNCIL will further consult with Heathcote residents on plans for an integrated civic precinct, after an element of the proposal sparked backlash.
A petition against relocating the McIvor Cottage Industries Co-operative from Heathcote's former Court House attracted more than 200 signatures.
The co-operative has called the heritage building home for more than 20 years.
Its main objective is to sell handmade craft items. A substantial portion of its finished art and crafts are sold on a consignment basis. Other wares include art and craft supplies, books and plants.
The co-operative has fewer than 10 members, but about 100 contributors.
More news: New township plan for growing Heathcote
The City of Greater Bendigo proposed to move the co-operative into the former Mechanics' Institute, now the Heathcote Senior Citizens and Guides' Hall.
In doing so, the former Court House could be made into an expanded government agency service provision space.
The Municipal Office could then become an expanded Heathcote Library service provision space.
Joining the Municipal Office and former Court House buildings was the most effective opportunity to enable growth and integration of government agency and library services in Heathcote, according to city staffers.
The co-operative "strongly rejected" the proposal, saying shared tenancy was not an option.
It is the sole occupant of the former Court House.
"We realise we are not being asked to close but to have to drastically downsize would inevitably be our downfall," the co-operative wrote in its petition.
Signatories called on the council to leave the co-operative alone, describing it as a necessary asset.
"You've got to be dreaming! No way," one signatory wrote.
"Heathcote needs this, it makes this town," another said.
The co-operative said it was filling a gap no other retail business in the town provided, and that it could be difficult for customers to go to Bendigo for art and craft supplies.
Another signatory attested to that, saying: "There is nowhere else in town to buy wool, buttons, etc".
The city has been undertaking consultation associated with the concept since 2015/16.
Developing an integrated civic precinct and expanding the community's library services have been identified as priority projects.
"I must admit this petition makes me question the value of the community consultation undertaken," Cr Andrea Metcalf said during the city's July meeting.
She'd hoped that, by then, the community's ideas would have been captured.
City staffers wrote in their report to councillors, before the meeting, that the petition showed there was still concern within the community about the potential impacts of any precinct development.
Councillors backed their recommendation to endorse further community consultation, which would shape the proposed Heathcote Integrated Civic Precinct concept design.
A further report into how the proposal would meet the needs of existing user groups and the broader community was also requested.
Council plans to factor the resulting plans into its budget for 2020/21.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.