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Wollondilly Shire CouncilPopulation forecast

Wollondilly Shire Council

Drivers of population change

Wollondilly Shire is a large and diverse local government area on Sydney’s southwestern fringe. A significant proportion of the Shire is covered by national parks, State forest and water catchment areas, particularly in the west and south east. Notable topographic features in the west include Lake Burragorang and Warragamba Dam, which supplies much of the water to the greater Sydney metropolitan area.

Settlement in the Shire is mainly confined to the Hume Freeway corridor, and encompasses towns and villages, as well as pockets of rural residential areas. The largest towns are Picton, Tahmoor and Thirlmere, which are located in the central part of the Shire off the Hume Freeway. Rural areas contain a variety of land uses, from grazing to more intensive activities, such as poultry and egg production, horse training and horticulture. There are also pockets of industrial and mining activity. In more recent years, agricultural land has come under increasing pressure from other uses, particularly as the Sydney metropolitan area expands south west and transport infrastructure improves.

Development history

European settlement dates from the first half of the nineteenth century. Picton was one of the first towns established in the Shire and retains its historical character today. The construction of the railway line encouraged further population growth, and villages were established around the stations. However, significant population growth and urban development in the Shire is a predominantly post-war phenomenon. This was spurred on by coal mining in the Tahmoor and Appin districts during the 1960s and 1970s and in more recent times by demand for housing created by Sydney’s expansion to the southwest. Between 1981 and 2006, the population of Wollondilly more than doubled from just on 20,000 to 41,000, with marked growth in townships and rural residential areas. This was aided by greater access to employment in southwestern Sydney with major improvements to road transport in the area (Hume Freeway and Camden Bypass). By 2016 the population increased to around 49,470.

Migration patterns

Traditionally, Wollondilly Shire has attracted family households and older adults (including retirees) from other parts of Sydney. In particular, the Shire attracts new residents from other parts of outer south western Sydney, such as Camden, Campbelltown and Liverpool. Relatively small numbers of new residents are from interstate or overseas. Between 2006 and 2011, the Shire lost population through migration to South East Queensland, neighbouring Wingecarribee Shire, and parts of coastal NSW.

Historical migration flows, Wollondilly Shire 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

The primary housing market role that the Shire has played in the post war era has been to provide relatively affordable housing for young and mature families in a rural or semi-rural environment. This is particularly true of the towns in the Shire, where families have access to school education and other services, and there are good and improving transport links into Sydney. Rural residential areas tend to attract more mature families, possibly second or third home buyers. Other parts of the Shire attract retirees, particularly where there are purpose built villages such as in Menangle, Bargo and Thirlmere. This diversity of housing market roles is typical of peri-urban areas around Australia’s major cities where the settlement pattern and housing stock differs widely.

Housing supply

The diverse character of the small areas in the Shire, coupled with differences in future residential supply, means that population and household outcomes differ widely. Demand for new housing on large greenfield sites in Wollondilly Shire is highly dependent on the amount of new supply available in Camden and Campbelltown, which are located closer to employment and other services. Significant new supply has been identified in Douglas Park - Wilton, particularly in the medium to long term. Realisation of these development opportunities, which are anticipated to be the main housing supply to the Shire will transform the charcter of these small towns, as well as altering the overall settlement pattern of the Shire away from the existing towns of Picton, Tahmoor and Thirlmere. Regardless, there are opportunities for new housing in these towns, both on greenfield sites and other infill opportunities. In contrast, relatively little new development is expected in Buxton - Couridjah and Oakdale - Nattai - National Park due to a lack of identified sites and environmental/topographical constraints. Overall, the assumptions underpinning the forecast presented here indicate of a population of 99,600 at 2041.

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