Church's plan for historic Yallah Woolshed

Part of the Yallah complex that the Lighthouse Church plans to develop to house at-risk youth. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Part of the Yallah complex that the Lighthouse Church plans to develop to house at-risk youth. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

The historic Yallah Woolshed site could soon become a hostel for young people at risk of homelessness if plans lodged by Wollongong's Lighthouse Church are given approval.

According to documents submitted to Wollongong City Council, the church plans to expand its emergency housing service by building four two-storey homes near the woolshed and existing homestead.

This would be known as a "Community Leadership and Innovation Centre" and would operate as a 28-bed hostel.

As part of the proposal the 104-year-old homestead, Yallah House, would be converted into an office with kitchenette, a boardroom, two interview rooms, two television rooms and toilets.

The facade of the house would not be touched to preserve its heritage value, the plans say.

Each of the new houses would contain four bedrooms, with three two-bed rooms upstairs and one single bedroom plus shared living, dining and kitchen areas downstairs.

The residents of the centre would receive training and education skills and other assistance as well as accommodation.

At present, the homestead has approval to be run as a bed and breakfast, and provides interim accommodation for about a dozen 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of homelessness. They can be referred to the service from Centrelink, the Department of Housing and other service providers who have no capacity to house them, the plans say.

When approached by the Mercury about the proposal, Lighthouse general manager Josh Hammann said he was "not really in a position to comment at the moment".

However, the documents said the current services were partly funded by the NSW government and recognised as "essential".

They also say the woolshed site was purchased "with a long-term plan to establish, operate and expand services necessary to improve the health and wellbeing of people who need assistance across the Illawarra".

The church bought the site in 2009 and in the past had leased it to a Christmas decorations seller.

Before that, it was a thriving country music venue and it later became the Yallah Roadhouse, which attracted some of the biggest names in the Australian music industry before it closed suddenly in 2007.

For now, the church has proposed no modifications to the woolshed building and the existing approval for an entertainment venue remains unchanged, but there are no plans to operate an entertainment facility at this time, the documents say.

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