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Coast Growing At 3.1%

By Dan Sowden

The Sunshine Coast has grown at a rate of 3.1% a year for the past five years, a trend which, if it continued, would see its population double in just 22 years.

New Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Australia grew nationally by more than a million people in the past two and a half years alone, one year less than it took to add the previous million.

The Sunshine Coast council has estimated, taking into account SEQ Regional Plan projections and locked in development approvals, real growth to 2031 will be about 54% on today’s Coast population of 330,000 taking it to 510,000.

The State Government has nominated as minimums the 70,500 people it wants accommodated at master planned areas at Palmview, Caloundra South and Maroochydore with a further 75,000 to be located through infill of existing communities.

Sunshine Coast Environment Council manager Narelle McCarthy said mandatory growth numbers should be removed from planning documents.

UDIA Sunshine Coast president Mark Van Wyk said his industry had never advocated unchecked growth. He said unmanaged populations would reach saturation point.

“Is our economic make-up sufficient to allow a growth pause?” he said.

A little over two years ago, Sunshine Coast Council parks and gardens staffer Jason Sheriff was managing a bearing company in his home town in country Victoria and enduring “cold, rainy winters”.

His desire for a lifestyle change increased the Coast’s population by three, a decision about which he has no concerns, despite still being unable to afford a house for his family which includes wife Stacey, a Sunshine Coast Council health inspector, and their four-year-old daughter.

They sold their four-bedroom home in Morwell for $290,000 but could find nothing of a comparable price here. Jason retrained as a horticulturalist at Nambour TAFE and obtained the tickets necessary to secure, through a labour hire company, his present part-time job at council.

A keen Australian Football player, he now coaches Noosa AFL’s reserve grade side and says through footy he continually bumps into fellow Victorians.

“I’m glad we made the move,” Jason said yesterday.

“You don’t get as much Rules coverage but the lifestyle’s great, I get to work outside and there is so much more to do here compared to where I’m from.”

That desire for a new lifestyle is helping fuel growth on the Coast.

The Sunshine Coast growth rate outstrips rates for Australia (1.8%) and Queensland which has absorbed 29% of national population growth, adding 100,000 new citizens a year for the past five years.

Peak resident group OSCAR has called on council to re-affirm its commitment – made in its submission to the SEQ Regional Plan – that the Coast’s ability to grow should be measured against identifiable constraints rather than mandatory targets including in master-planned areas.

Spokesman Ian Christesen said projected growth to 510,000 should be challenged by the new regional plan being developed.

Mayor Bob Abbot, this week named on a national sustainable population advisory panel set up by Julia Gillard and chaired by former NSW premier Bob Carr, said he wanted population numbers in the master-planned to be considered maximums rather than the minimums decreed by state planning minister Stirling Hinchliffe.

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily – Bill Hoffman | 2nd July 2010

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