The owner of a controversial drug and alcohol centre who fought for years to secure planning approval has been forced to close its doors.
After closing earlier this year due to the pandemic, the Riverina's first privately owned drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic at 199 Gurwood Street is now up for sale.
The Riverina Recovery House faced opposition from many sides, battling local residents, council and a case in the NSW Land and Environment Court before owner Debbie Cox eventually got it up and running in mid-2020.
"We tried to open in the middle of the pandemic, but it was very difficult with the stop-start nature of government lockdowns," Ms Cox said.
"The program was working really well and we helped many people but COVID was not our friend," she said.
Ms Cox said as the pandemic dragged on, staff shortages proved to be a major issue.
She said the lockdowns also prevented people from travelling to Wagga to come and stay in the house.
After ceasing operations earlier this year, she is now hoping somebody else will take it onboard because despite its closure, there is still a lot of interest from people to use the facility.
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Raine & Horne Real Estate agent Grant Harris said while the vendor is calling for expressions of interest, it is her preference to keep the property as a rehab house.
"While the business is not currently trading, the new owners could basically turn a key and resume operations tomorrow," Mr Harris said.
But if that doesn't work out, Mr Harris said there is a chance it could find a new purpose.
Located on a double block, the centre features one main house with 10 bedrooms and three separate fully contained studios, totalling 724 square metres.
Meanwhile, Wagga councillor Tim Koschel said the fact the house is now for sale is proof his concerns about the project at the time were justified.
Located in a residential area, the development required a change of use permit from council to proceed,
At the time Cr Koschel opposed this on the grounds that if the centre were to cease operations it could open the door for many other uses, not all of them beneficial to the location.
He said council's decision will also be very hard to reverse.
"On the other hand, I know there are also plenty of potential uses the local residents would be happy with," he said.
Back when the issue was before council, Cr Koschel backed a number of residents who opposed the project but pointed out his concern was about the change of use and not primarily about the location of a drug rehab centre.
"I haven't heard any complaints at all since the rehab house has been there and it's a shame the project hasn't worked out, given Wagga's massive drug-use problem," he said.
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