Northern Beaches CouncilPopulation forecast
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Northern Beaches Council area

Drivers of population change

Development history

The Northern Beaches Council area is located in Sydney's northern coastal suburbs and combines a diverse range of land uses and economic activities. The LGA comprises around 277 square kilometres The first wave of urban development took place in Manly from the 1880s as the area became a popular seaside resort. Expansion continued through to the 1920s, spurred by improved access with the opening of the Spit and Roseville bridges and later with the development of a tramway to Narrabeen. Although this promoted the construction of large numbers of holiday houses in the area, it was not until after the Second World War that the area went through its first rapid growth phase, with the development of many inland suburbs away from the traditional transport corridors. This growth was facilitated by better infrastructure, most notably roads and bridges and widespread access to cars. Many apartments and units were built along the coast from Manly to Dee Why in the 1960s and 1970s. The population of the area was 28,150 in 1921 and increased steadily to 69,600 in 1947. In the postwar period, significant residential expansion and permanent occupancy of holiday homes saw an increase in the population to 196,000 by 1971.

Migration patterns

The Northern Beaches Council area has traditionally played a range of roles depending on the area. Manly and coastal areas to the immediate north with their high density housing have traditionally catered for young adults, while areas further north and inland have provided home owning opportunities for families and prospective families within the northern suburbs of Sydney. Over time, as the older parts of the area have been redeveloped, more diversity has emerged with many of the coastal areas offering a broader range of stock and consequently attracting young adults and elderly.

The importance of the area within the northern suburban housing market of Sydney has continued. There is significant pressure for residential expansion from both existing residents and from in-bound migration, most notably from overseas, as well as areas to the south.

It is assumed that a number of these patterns will continue into the future, notably flows into the area from the south and from overseas, as well as loss of population to the north, most notably to the coastal areas of New South Wales as well as South East Queensland.

The attraction of the area is a reflection on the significant range of housing opportunities, and the amenity of the area, relative to areas closer to central Sydney. Local demand is relatively strong as the age structure of the area is conducive to producing a large number of new households. This is due to the fact that there are large numbers of older children (late teens, twenties and even thirties) expected to leave home over the coming years.

Historical migration flows, Northern Beaches Council area, 2006-2011
Historical migration flows, Northern Beaches Council area, 2006-2011
'Overseas' refers to arrivals only.

Population and household forecasts, 2011 to 2036, prepared by .id the population experts, October 2016.

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 varied development phases and the overall size of the municipality, different areas within the Northern Beaches have developed different roles in the housing market. Inland areas such as Seaforth, Elanora Heights, Bayview, Davidson, Forestville, Killarney Heights are attractive to mature families looking to upgrade to their second and third home. Manly, Balgowlah, Dee Why, Queenscliff, Freshwater, Manly Vale and Narrabeen have a significant component of higher density housing, which attracts a large share of young adults (18-29 years), seeking housing opportunities and proximity to the beach. Narrabeen also attracts a large share of retirees and elderly as a result of the RSL Veterans Home. Belrose-Oxford Falls has had significant development over the last 10 years, but has little future opportunity for residential development; consequently, it is expected to move from a growth profile to one where population is decreasing in the longer term.

Housing supply

There are also significant differences in the supply of residential property within the Northern Beaches which will also have a major influence in structuring different population and household futures over the next five to fifteen years. There are greenfield opportunities in Ingleside and Warriewood, but these are relatively small given the demand for housing that is likely to be created from the area. A range of smaller redevelopment sites have also been identified. The major areas identified for further medium and higher density housing include Manly, Dee Why, Narrabeen and Brookvale.

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