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Hobsons Bay CityPopulation forecast

Hobsons Bay City

Drivers of population change

Hobsons Bay City is an established municipality located in Melbourne’s western suburbs. It is characterised by its diversity, encompassing historic suburbs and gentrifying areas in the Williamstown/Newport corridor, and maturing suburbs in the west, typified by Altona Meadows and Seabrook. Hobsons Bay also has a significant manufacturing base, including significant petrochemical plants and refineries in Spotswood and Altona North. However, more recent years have seen an overall decline in manufacturing activity, particularly in the east, which has the effect of freeing up this land for alternative uses. These changes are ongoing and will continue to influence demographic and housing outcomes in the City over the forecast period.

Development history

Urban development in the City dates back to 1837, with the establishment of Williamstown as a port. The area became a major maritime centre for Melbourne over the following decades and much of urban development in the eastern part of the City dates from this period and the early twentieth century. In the west, urban development generally dates from the post-war period, with residential development spreading away from the railway lines into Altona North, and most recently around Altona Meadows and Seabrook.

There has been significant economic restructuring over recent decades which has resulted in notable changes to the patterns of land use in Hobsons Bay City. This process is ongoing. Some of the industries in the eastern part of the City have closed or relocated, which has provided opportunities for redevelopment of this land for residential purposes. This pattern is most notable in Williamstown, Newport (East and West) and Spotswood-South Kingsville, where a number of sites have been developed. During the 1990s some conversion of surplus government and utility land to residential purposes occurred, most notably the Williamstown Rifle Range and Williamstown Junction sites. These types of redevelopment opportunities are important as the amount of greenfield land in the municipality has been largely exhausted and significant additions to the dwelling stock can only be realised through redevelopment on brownfield sites. Due to its bayside location and relative proximity to the CBD, there is significant pressure for residential development, although affordability issues and ageing dwelling stock have resulted in the loss of people to the outer west.

Migration patterns

Overall, in the post war period the primary housing market role that Hobsons Bay City has played was to provide home owning opportunities for families and prospective families from western suburbs of Melbourne. In more recent years, net in-migration from the inner south eastern suburbs has become more important as the eastern part of Hobsons Bay has become part of the wider inner city housing market (from a metropolitan perspective) and is gentrifying. However, Hobsons Bay loses significant population to neighbouring growth area LGAs such as Wyndham and Melton, as well as ’sea-change’ and ’tree-change’ LGAs to the west, such as Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool and Macedon Ranges. This flow consists mainly of young adults leaving the family home or inner city rental accommodation to take advantage of relatively affordable home opportunities in Melbourne’s outer west, and also empty nesters looking for a change of lifestyle.

Historical migration flows, Hobsons Bay City, 2011-2016

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 based on answers to the census question "where did the person usually live 5-years ago" and .id estimates of international out-migration.

Housing role and function

The housing market in Hobsons Bay is diverse, reflecting the residential development of the City over several decades and the range of land uses. This difference in function and role of the small areas in Hobsons Bay City means that population outcomes differ significantly across the municipality. The eastern part of the City (Williamstown, Newport East and Spotswood - South Kingsville) has a migration profile typical of Melbourne’s inner suburbs, with large gains of young adults who are attracted to the inner city lifestyle and proximity to the CBD. Typically, these young adults will move out of the area once they start a family as the housing stock is not suitable for larger households. Other parts of Hobsons Bay have maturing households and are beginning to show signs of suburban regeneration, whereby older households are gradually replaced by younger households, resulting in a new wave of population growth and change. This process is well advanced in suburbs such as Altona Meadows and Seabrook which were primarily developed in the 1990s. The young families that moved there are now ageing and the children are leaving home, creating smaller households and resulting in some population loss.

Housing supply

There are also significant differences in the supply of residential property within the City which will also have a major influence in structuring different population and household futures over the forecast period. Surplus industrial land will create significant opportunities for additional housing, particularly in Altona North, Williamstown and Spotswood-South Kingsville. Precinct 15 in Altona North is one of the largest brownfield sites in western Melbourne, with approximately 3,000 new dwellings forecast in the period to 2040. Infill development will also continue to create new dwelling stock throughout the City, primarily in Altona-Seaholme, Altona North and Newport West, due to the ageing dwelling stock and larger lot sizes. Overall, the City is forecast to record modest population growth over the forecast period to reach a population of 126,000 at 2041.

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