Shire of NillumbikPopulation forecast
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Nillumbik Shire

Drivers of population change

Nillumbik Shire is located on Melbourne's north eastern outskirts and features both urban and rural areas - including rural townships. The bulk of population is located in the south and south-western areas, generally comprising Diamond Creek, Eltham, Eltham North, Greensborough, Hurstbridge and Wattle Glen. The Shire was formed in 1994 from the merger of parts of the Shire of Eltham, Shire of Diamond Valley, Shire of Healesville and City of Whittlesea. The major townships are Eltham, Diamond Creek and Hurstbridge. The Shire encompasses a total land area of about 432 square kilometres.

Development history

European settlement of the Nillumbik area dates from the late 1830s, with land used mainly for grazing, timber-cutting and viticulture. Development was slow until the 1850s and 1860s, spurred by the gold rush, with townships established at Diamond Creek, Panton Hill, Research and St Andrews. From 1870 to 1900 orchards spread along the Diamond Valley, with the prosperity of the fruit growing industry resulting in the townships of Arthurs Creek, Doreen, Plenty and Strathewen. A railway was built to Eltham and later Hurstbridge in the early 1900s. Sugarloaf Reservoir was constructed in the 1970s, serving as a water storage and treatment plant supplying Melbourne. Pre-war, there was little population growth, with the most significant residential development occurred in the post-war years, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s. In the former Shire of Eltham, for instance, most of which forms a significant part of what is now the Shire of Nillumbik , the population at 1911 was 3,423, increasing to 7,028 by 1947. By 1958, however, the population of the Shire had more than doubled to an estimated 14,660. This grew to 28,631 by 1976, and by 1991 reached 42,670. The population for Nillumbik Shire has increased since the early 1990s, with growth slowing from 2001. The population has risen from about 53,100 in 1991 to about 62,700 in 2011. The rural areas of the Shire suffered significantly as a result of the Black Saturday bushfires in February 2009, with the loss of approximately 130 dwellings, principally in the townships of Strathewen, St Andrews and Arthurs Creek.

Migration patterns

The primary housing market role that Nillumbik Shire has played in the post war period has been to provide home owning opportunities for family households, particularly from the north east suburbs of Melbourne. Although there is continued demand for new housing in the Shire, there are limited opportunities for large scale greenfield development due to topographical and environmental constraints. Housing affordability is also a significant issue for young adults and many who grew up in the area leave in their twenties for home owning opportunities elsewhere, particularly neighbouring Whittlesea.

Historical migration flows, Nillumbik Shire, 2006-2011
Historical migration flows, Nillumbik Shire, 2006-2011
'Overseas' refers to arrivals only.

Population and household forecasts, 2011 to 2036, prepared by .id the population experts, June 2017.

Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals only, based on answers to the census question “where did the person usually live 5-years ago.

Housing role and function

With the variety of residential areas, natural characteristics and period of development, different areas within Nillumbik Shire have developed different roles within the housing market. This means that population outcomes differ significantly across the Shire.The bulk of the areas attract second and third homebuyer markets, predominantly made up of established families, including Eltham (Edendale), Eltham (South), Eltham (North), Kangaroo Ground - Wattle Glen, North Warrandyte, Plenty - Yarrambat, Research, Rural East and Rural North West. There is some evidence of suburban regeneration, the process by which older households make way for younger households, in areas such as Eltham - East and Greensborough. This is indicated by the out migration of elderly persons generally being matched by the in-migration of younger households eg families. Over time, this process means that suburbs recording population decline through population ageing will stabilise and even increase in the future.

Housing supply

There are also significant differences in the supply of future residential land within the Shire which will also have a major influence in structuring different population and household futures over the next twenty-five years. Development opportunities on greenfield and strategic sites are expected to be exhausted in the forecast period. As such, the focus of much future housing development will be through infill opportunities. Some of this will be in identified centres such as Eltham, but much will also be opportunistic subdivision of existing residential lots, or through conversion of non-residential land. The most significant new housing opportunities have been identified in Diamond Creek, Eltham (Central) and Plenty-Yarrambat. Rural areas of the Shire can expect modest growth in the future. Although some parts were badly impacted by the Black Saturday fires, a significant amount of rebuilding had occurred by 2011 and thus are not a significant factore in future development. This is expected to largely occur through subdivision of larger rural lots where permitted.

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