Sydney predicted to reach 6 million
20 October 2008
SYDNEY will face a struggle to build homes and public transport for 6 million people by 2036 while coping with an increasingly ageing population, many of whom will live alone.
Whoever is governing NSW after the next election will face the serious challenge of providing infrastructure and housing for the new residents, according to projections to be released today by the Planning Department. They show Sydney will soak up a greater part of the state's resources over the next 30 years with the city's population projected to rise 40 per cent from 4.28 million in 2006.
NSW is set to grow 33 per cent to 9.07 million by 2036, and more than 1 million homes will have to be built between now and then to house the new residents.
An increase in fertility rates and net migration will drive Sydney's population growth even higher than in forecasts done by the Government three years ago, and on which it has based its planning strategies.
Country towns will continue to struggle as people flee the tough times brought on by drought.
Populations will fall in the north-west of the state, and will grow only marginally in the central west and the Murray.
The slow death of country NSW is contrasted with burgeoning populations along the coast. But poorly funded coastal councils are already struggling to provide for their residents and many of the people expected to move east during the next 30 years will be retired or close to retirement age.
For example, in the Richmond-Tweed area, the percentage of people aged 65 and over is expected to rise from 17.6 per cent in 2006 to 29.3 per cent by 2036.
NSW boom time
Unlike coastal regions that are expected to grow mostly from migration, of the 1.7 million rise in Sydney's population 69 per cent will be driven by births and only 31 per cent by net migration.
Projections such as these affect everything, from where housing estates are built to the location of schools and the rollout of public transport services, said the Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally.
"Our challenge is to keep working with the Federal Government, across the State Government, with the private housing sector and, in particular, with local councils to build the homes and provide the services for our growing population," said Ms Keneally.
The projections take into account findings from the 2006 census and the latest data and expertise on fertility, mortality, migration and household living arrangements.
Planning experts raised the alarm earlier this month that Sydney's blueprint for development - the Metropolitan Strategy - would have to squeeze in 30 per cent more apartment blocks and houses than planners had thought.
Three years ago the strategy estimated Sydney would need an extra 640,000 dwellings by 2031 but a co-author of the report, Patrick Fensham, claimed up to 876,640 would be needed because of soaring immigration.
"The numbers are somewhat alarming. It means we really do need to refocus our attention on how we will accommodate Sydney's growing population and we are not producing anything like the targets needed to meet this demand," said Mr Fensham, who is a director at SGS Economics and Planning.
However, projections done by the department show the expected fall in the number of people living in each household is not as steep as had been expected.
The average Sydney household is projected to decline from 2.61 persons in 2006 to 2.49 by 2036. By 2031, it is expected to be 2.51 compared with a projection in the Metropolitan Strategy of 2.36.
Ms Keneally said higher fertility accounted for the change in the number of people living in each home
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