In this post I’ll try to put the “mega-councils” story in the broader context of Sydney’s forecast population growth by looking at population increases growth rates rather than the resulting size of the councils themselves, though obviously there is a strong link between the two.
According to the NSW Bureau of Transport Statistics (BTS – formerly the TDC) forecasts, the Sydney Greater Metropolitan Area (GMA) will be 37.8% (the average growth rate per council will be slightly higher, at 39.5%, but for the purposes of this exercise I will stick with the GMA average). There are 16 councils which are forecast to experience growth higher than this average rate.
The average increase in population per council over this period is 37,225 persons and there are 15 councils whose growth in terms of total population will exceed this figure, according to the BTS forecasts (the usual caveats and qualifications as outlined in earlier posts apply). I have decided to bring together these two groups – those with projected higher-than-average growth rates and those with above-average population growth numbers as a highly arbitrary but quite interesting way of identifying “high growth” councils.
As shown in Table 1, seven councils are forecast to experience above-average growth rates but below-average growth in terms of numbers, while six councils are forecast to demonstrate the reverse below-average rates but higher-than-average increases in terms of numbers. Nine councils belong to both groups.
This group of 22 councils (42% of the GMA’s 53 councils) is an interesting bunch. 74% of all of Sydney’s population growth will occur across these councils and the average rate of growth will be 53.8%.
Not surprisingly, all 12 “200,000 plus” Councils I identified in previous posts that are forecast to be added by 2036 are members of this group as well. One of the two existing 200,000 plus councils, Blacktown, will also grow strongly, leaving only one council, Sutherland, which is currently over 200,000 but not on this list as it will grow comparatively slowly over the next 25 years.
Greater Western Sydney (GWS) tends to dominate this list. Table 2 summarises regional figures for these councils (don’t forget the numbers refer to the “high growth” councils in each region, not the total numbers of councils, anticipated total population increases or forecast regional rates of growth).
Twelve of the GWS region’s 14 councils are in this group and these councils account for over 70% the high-growth council increase, 52% of the total GMA increase and 95.4% of GWS growth. All these figures are substantially higher than those in the remaining 10 high-growth councils, which are spread across four other regions.
In summary, the picture of Sydney’s future growth is of an arc, or crescent, starting in the north with Hunter councils such as Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Port Stephens, moving down through Wyong to a thick band around the Western edge of Sydney containing almost all the Greater Western Sydney councils and tapering off into Wollongong and Shoalhaven in the Illawarra.
Meanwhile other, smaller clusters of strong growth will occur in Sydney City (which will increase substantially both in numbers and rate of growth) and around Burwood and Strathfield (which will show strong growth rates but off a small population base).
What is equally significant are the councils not shown in these tables, the other 31 that are forecast to experience below-average growth rates and comparatively lower increases in total populations. For example, there are no councils from Sydney’s north and south, none from the eastern suburbs and only two comparatively small councils in the inner west.
I’ll discuss some of the overall implications of the BTC population forecasts in a future post.