The operators of the Denison Street methadone clinic have applied for council permission to relocate the service to a site 500m away.
The application, on exhibition until September 26, seeks consent for a change of use of unoccupied buildings at the rear of 4-10 Auburn Street to enable them to become a methadone clinic and drug and alcohol counselling centre.
It follows a previous application to relocate the service to a cottage in Gladstone Avenue, which was knocked back by the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel in June.
The Denison Street Clinic (DSC) has operated from 49 Denison Street since 1994, but was last year sold to developers who plan to build a nine-storey commercial and residential tower in its place.
According to documents lodged with council, there are around 850 opioid treatment program (OTP) patients in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, with nearly 40 per cent of those receiving a service from the DSC.
The clinic is currently providing treatment to 347 patients, however the number of residents who may be opioid dependent and may benefit from services was likely to be much higher.
In a social impact statement, the operators estimated there would be more than 9000 unsanctioned opioid users in the region.
“The benefits of OTP are well documented,” the report stated. “In particular they are reported to significantly reduce the harms and costs of unsanctioned opioid use to individuals and the community.
“The relocation of the clinic will ensure that the DSC can continue to operate in a locality that is highly accessible to the wide geography serviced by the clinic.”
The Auburn Street site – previously used as a sobering-up clinic run by Watershed – is located next to Wollongong train station, and close to the Wollongong Hospital Precinct.
Documents before council state that existing OTP dosing sites are also in close proximity, namely the Bungora public clinic and four pharmacy dosing sites.
Car parking already exists onsite and pedestrian access is available through the car park from Lowden Square.
The operators state that the continued operation of services is “strongly supported by evidence, government policy and the local police”.
They noted that until May 4 this year – when a former patient was stabbed to death by an existing patient on the footpath – there had been no major incidents at the clinic since its opening.
The operators plan to put in onsite security measures, including CCTV and possibly a security guard, at the new site. As well they would continue to develop strategies to reduce congregation and waiting times outside the premises.