Coffs Coast Business, Local

Is the Coffs Coast sitting on an aging population ‘time bomb’?

The proportion of the population aged over 60 in Coffs Harbour is expected to grow by 67 per cent in the next 20 years, while the number of 25 to 34-year-olds will only rise by 13 per cent.

By Melissa Martin of The ABC – Coffs Coast

Key points:

  • The population of people over 60 in Coffs Harbour is forecast rise by 67 per cent by 2040.
  • Coffs Harbour City Council is planning how to deal with the ageing population, inlcuding the need for more high-density housing.
  • Population growth will be highest in the city, Jetty and Park Beach areas.
The population of over-60s in Coffs Harbour is expected to grown by more than two-thirds by 2040. Photo; ABC News: Emily Piesse.

The gaping divide is something the Coffs Harbour City Council has seized on as it grapples with how the face of the city will change by 2040.

“Our population is simply getting older across Australia and particularly here on the North Coast, so we have other things in place that we’re trying to make sure that we balance the bell curve,” Coffs Harbour City Council Section Leader, Local Planning Sharon Smith said.

“We don’t want to be seen as a retirement village basically.”

Housing an older population

The Coffs Harbour City Council has released a draft local growth-management strategy, which looks at ways to address the expected population growth of 22,000 people in the city in the coming two decades.

It is predicted the population of the city will reach 97,440 by 2040, leading to a demand for up to 13,267 new residential dwellings.

It also states that the “empty nesters and retirees” age group will become the largest service age group.

The population of people over the age of 75 will more than double.

An older population has different housing needs, which the strategy suggested can be addressed with a 40 per cent increase in higher-density housing on infill sites, largely around the city centre, Jetty and Park Beach.

“Currently over 70 per cent of our dwelling stock across the whole LGA [local government area] are detached houses,” Ms Smith said.

“What we need to do is make sure that we increase the number of one and two-bedroom homes and units that we can supply to accommodate that older ageing population and then that will free up existing three and four-bedroom stock for families and larger households.”

A drone photo of a housing estate shows large houses built very close together on small blocks.
Demand for detached housing will be highest in areas including Bonville, Korora and Woolgoolga. (ABC News: Steven Schubert)

The millennial factor

The number of millennials will increase in the city, but in far fewer numbers than the over-60s.

“It’s certainly something that we need to be conscious of and we wish to be out there actively promoting them to come to our city,” Ms Smith said.

Council needs this age group to stay or move to the city to work, open businesses, and keep the economy moving.

Ms Smith said projects already planned, including the revitalisation of the Jetty precinct and Foreshores, would be important to attract younger residents.

“We found out that younger people tend to want to come where a place looked good; they’re very interested in public realm outcomes,” she said.

Ms Smith said millennials also wanted to live in a city where they could walk or ride, rather than use a car.

Where will growth occur?

While the population in the city, Jetty and Park Beach are tipped to rise by 21 per cent with a rise in higher density housing, outer suburbs are also expected to grow significantly.

The populations of West Coffs Harbour and the Bonville/Boambee areas are expected to increase by 12 per cent, while Korora, Sapphire Beach and Woolgoolga are tipped to grow by 11 per cent.

Already well established hubs like Sawtell, Boambee East and Toormina are expected to see little change in population growth.

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First published at The ABC Coffs Coast. See; https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-22/coffs-harbour-prepares-for-an-aging-population/12372358

One Comment

  1. Richard McDermott

    No problem with this growing aged population they can sit and look at the wonderful ediface the mayor wants to spend our ever dwindling rate income on building and visit the museum and art gallery while they are waiting to see the Council office staff to sign up to their pensioner rate discount.

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