Boom days ahead

By DAVID MOASE

THE number of homes in Coffs Harbour will nearly double in the next 25 years and the population will increase by more than 60 per cent, according to a new study.

Powered by the sea change phenomenon, the city will need another 20,000 dwellings by the year 2031 to cater to a population of about 100,000.

The figures have been compiled by KPMG partner Bernard Salt, who says coastal cities will reinvent themselves as a result of strong population growth and the changing nature of Australian households.

While the sea change effect will be seen to its greatest extent in Queensland and Western Australia, Coffs Harbour will be among the fastest growing cities in New South Wales.

It will match the growth expected to be seen in Port Macquarie, and only the Tweed Coast, linked in the study with the Gold Coast, will see faster growth.

Mr Salt's report, Australia on the Move, says about 40,000 new residents will be calling Coffs Harbour home by 2031.

That figure is even higher than Coffs Harbour City Council's estimate of about 33,000 cited in its 'Our Living City' settlement strategy discussion paper that is currently being circulated for community comment.

According to Mr Salt, 55 per cent of the city's housing stock in 2031 will have been built in the preceding three decades.

"There is both an opportunity and a responsibility for this generation to strategically plan for future development of our cities and the infrastructure they require," he said.

The study was commissioned by the Property Council of Australia, which said it should 'ring loud alarm bells for Australia's system of land use and population policy making'.

"For generations, the growth and development of our nation has been subject to a form of 'policy on the run'," Peter Verwer, the chief executive of the Property Council, said.

"Growth has typically been allowed to happen without the appropriate frameworks of infrastructure and land use provision.

"Accidental cities, and regions in need of rescue; these are the legacy of a mismanaged approach to housing growth and development in this country since the post-war period."

Coffs Harbour mayor, Cr Keith Rhoades, yesterday said the city was in a sound position to plan for the next 25 years.

"The impact fo the sea change phenomenon has been long predicted and it is now starting to be felt," he said.

"This city has been planning for a number of years to improve its essential infrastructure to cater for a growing population.

"It is up to use to look down the road to make sure the infrastructure is in place for the future and that we are reacting as a council to ensure we can keep pace with the growth of the population."

Cr Rhoades said it was important that developers made contributions to help fund improved infrastructure, although councils had to be careful not to charge so much that developers were driven away to other areas.



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