100,000 people to move to the coast
By EMMA CORNFORD and ZOE SATHERLEY
MACLEAN is growing faster than most places on the North Coast, including Byron Bay and Ballina, according to leading expert on social change, demographics and business, Bernard Salt.
Mr Salt, a partner of accounting firm KPMG Australia, best selling author and columnist with The Australian and Property Australia, was at Southern Cross University on Tuesday speaking at a lecture jointly sponsored by the East Coast Mortgage Trust (ECMT) and SCU.
He said the Northern Rivers could expect an influx of 100,000 new residents over the next 25 years, opening up business and investment opportunities galore.
According to Mr Salt, Maclean's growth stands at 1.4per cent but Grafton is declining at a rate of 0.5per cent each year.
This all sits within his predictions of inland cities such as Grafton and Lismore becoming 'administrative centres', while most people choose to live on the coast.
"When the Pacific Highway is upgraded and the Tugun bypass is completed in a few years, people will come flocking to this region," Mr Salt predicted.
Forget the negative growth figures being predicted by government agencies.
They are looking at historical data and not at future demographic, social and cultural trends, which are Mr Salt's speciality, he said.
Based on his research, the influx of people to the land of rainforests and beaches will be driven by the surge of cashed-up baby boomers, still fleeing southern capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
Fear of terrorist attacks, global warming, improved air services and better infrastructure like the Pacific Highway upgrade will all contribute as drivers of the sea-change and tree-change revolution.
While those arriving with money will keep on driving up property prices in beach locations like Yamba, rural hamlets won't miss out either.
Places like Casino and Coraki will be the new preferred residential areas for young families, working singles and low income earners, many of whom will drive a boom in the demand for rental accommodation, Mr Salt said.
ECMT chief executive officer Scott Collis said the evidence was pointing towards Mr Salt's predictions coming true.
"Inland cities like Grafton ... will continue to have a positive role to play in the region because they are already centres (and) things like banks, schools and hospitals are already here and they're all difficult to pick up and move," Mr Collis said.
"We're already seeing the development for different lifestyles, from luxury units at places like Byron Bay, to the retirement lifestyle type villages ... and I really think this will continue."