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MidCoast CouncilPopulation forecast

MidCoast Council

Drivers of population change

The Mid-Coast Council area is located on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, in the Hunter Region, about 320 kilometres north of the Sydney CBD. The area occupies the mid north coast region between Newcastle, Port Stephens and Port Macquarie. The council was formed in 2016 through a merger of the Gloucester Shire, Great Lakes and City of Greater Taree councils.

Development history

The Mid-Coast council area comprises the major urban centres of Taree and Forster-Tuncurry, the traditional rural service centres of Wingham, Bulahdelah, Stroud and Gloucester as well as several growing coastal townships such as Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens and a large rural hinterland. Early development in the former Greater Taree area dates from the 1820s when timber getting and timber mills were established. Wingham was established in the 1840s as a river port for the cedar trade. The opening of the railway in 1913 saw Taree overtake Wingham as the major centre in the former district.

Significant growth has occurred in the post war era both in Taree as well as the coastal townships. The primary housing market role that the Greater Taree area has played during the post-war period was to provide housing opportunities for new households forming within the former Greater Taree region as well as attracting retirees from areas further south, in particular metropolitan Sydney. The former Great Lakes area also began to develop around the same time in the early 1800s and continued slowly into the early 1900s, primarily in Forster-Tuncurry. The most significant development of the former Great Lakes area occurred in the post-war period, particularly from the 1960s - aided by the tourism and sandmining industries, and by road and bridge construction. In more recent times the area has emerged as a popular ‘lifestyle region’, with increasing numbers of retirees, people seeking an alternative or coastal lifestyle, and holiday makers. The Gloucester area and surroundings, located in the mid-western part of the LGA were first settled in the 1830s with the township of Gloucester being established in 1855, primarily for sheep farming, however it became apparent that the land was not entirely suitable. The timber industry instead flourished since the late 19th century and along with cattle farming became the major industries around the Gloucester area.

Migration patterns

The primary housing market role that the Mid-Coast Council area has played during the post-war period was to provide housing opportunities for new households forming within the region as well as attracting retirees from areas further south, such as metropolitan Sydney. The importance of the Mid-Coast Council area as a destination for families and retirees from areas further south is expected to continue over the forecast period with notable gains of both young and established families with children aged 25-44 years with children aged 0-14 years and older adults representing the empty nester/early retiree and retiree category, aged 50-69 years. Because of this there is some pressure for residential expansion within the Council area from both existing residents and from people moving to the area. It is assumed that this pattern will continue and different land supply options will cater for this demand. In terms of spatial migration moves, Mid-Coast Council typically gains residents from Blacktown, Parramatta, Central Coast and the Northern Beaches Council area. It loses population to larger centres such as Newcastle and South East Queensland, a common trend in regional centres where younger segments of the population, usually 17-24 year olds, move out of the area in search of adventure, education and employment.

Historical migration flows, MidCoast Council, 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

As the Mid-Coast Council area will continue to have several prominent housing markets in the future, these areas will therefore have different housing roles and functions. Areas such as Bulahdelah-Central Rural will cater for established families with children and mature adults, empty nesters and early retirees while losing young adults aged 18-24 years. Areas such as Brimbin, which are yet to develop and will provide much future housing capacity – will cater to both the family and older "empty nester/early retiree" segments of the population. Coastal areas with a holiday home component, such as areas in Forster and Tuncurry will provide housing to families but primarily cater for housing of empty nesters, early retirees and retirees aged 55-69 years. The appeal to these housing markets is a reflection of the natural attractiveness of the area, the climate and the significant amount of residential housing opportunities close to the coast. Other areas such as Hallidays Point or Hawks Nest – Tea Gardens will continue to mainly gain older residents to the area and lose younger school-leaving aged residents. These age specific migration patterns, along with the process of ageing in place, will mean that the mentioned areas have a much higher segment of older residents in the future and may require planning and provision of additional age-specific services in the future. The rural areas attract families, fewer retirees and lose significant numbers of young adults as they seek employment and educational opportunities in larger centres. The variety of role and function of the small areas in the Mid-Coast Council area means that population outcomes differ significantly across the LGA, both in terms of growth over time and change over time.

Housing supply

There are also significant differences in the housing supply and assumed residential development within the Mid-Coast Council area which will also have a major influence in structuring different population and household futures within the area during the forecast period. Predominantly new greenfield development opportunities have been identified in the area with a portion of medium and high density development also expected in certain parts of the LGA.

Significant new ’greenfield’ opportunities have been identified in Brimbin (with the township development anticipated to commence from the mid 2020s and continue to develop beyond 2036), Hallidays Point (e.g. Halliday Shores, Seascape Village, Tallwoods Village), Old Bar-Wallabi (Namely the Old Bar Precinct development in the future), Hawks Nest-Tea Gardens, Old Bar-Wallabi and Taree with several greenfield developments identified in the mid and long term. Higher density town centre development opportunities have been identified in Forster and Tuncurry where such development has seen successful uptake already. Rural areas are expected to add relatively moderate numbers of new dwellings over the forecast period with some housing stock growth assumed to occur in the form of lifestyle block/rural-living larger lot developments.

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