Last week saw the release of the latest population projections from the Office of Economic and Statistical Research (OESR).
Some quick analysis has revealed some drastic changes from the previous release in 2011, the majority of which have anticipated a further increase in the concentration of growth within SEQ. Whilst this is not a totally surprising development, it is at odds with one of the target objectives within 'The Queensland Plan' which states "Half of Queensland's population lives outside South East Queensland". Currently supporting around 67% of QLD's population, SEQ is expected to increase its proportion to around 69% by 2036 to over 4.9 million people. We have long challenged the separation of regional planning from infrastructure planning and economic strategic planning. The population projections will have a significant input to the preparation of the new SEQ Regional Plan, but how do they sit with the Queensland Plan? Does this mean that the Queensland Plan will be simply rhetoric with little substance if regional planning continues to focus economic and population activity within the Sout East and not to reflect the Qld Plan intent to populate and grow economic strength of regional Qld?
The following are the Top 10 changes to population projections by 2031 for statistical areas between the OESR 2011 and 2013 editions, with some rather big "winners" in Coomera and Upper Coomera
Upper Caboolture 16,885
Inala - Richlands 15,538
Upper Coomera - Willow Vale 13,175
Springfield Lakes 11,987
No doubt this will require some radical new thinking for planning the mix of housing that will be required to accommodate these population changes in the "win" areas as there is quite a vast shift in some areas that will influence infill and greenfield targets for Ipswich, Moreton and Gold Coast. It is interesting to see some expectation of population growth in employment corridors eg. Inala-Richlands, although the majority of the growth "win" areas are greenfield areas detached from employment opportunities. Ripley, which was to provide significant employment for its growth corridorm, now with significant downwards projections on its population potential by 2031 - surely this will have significant implications also for the delivery of employment for the western corridor?
Waiting with interest for the first draft of the SEQ Regional Plan revision.