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Western Australia's population is forecast to double in the next 40 years
to almost 4.5 million people. Policymakers are working to ensure that
population growth is distributed more widely, reports Ben Power.
I NEED TO
Amajor response to the population
challenge is the Western Australia
State Government's SuperTowns
initiative, which is designed to assist towns
in the southern half of the state to plan and
prepare for their own expansion, but to also
be prepared to take up some of the state's
Nine towns have been named as part
of the initiative, including the south west
region towns of Collie, Manjimup and
Margaret River. The policy is expected to
boost business opportunities in the south
and help drive housing development in the
region, creating opportunities for brokers.
"SuperTowns supports the growth in
demand and supply for housing, as people
increasingly make the decision to move to
the towns," says Anna Oades, SuperTowns
Portfolio Manager at the South West
By 2050, metropolitan WA's population
is expected to surge to 3.2 million. But
regional areas will also experience growth.
According to the latest trends, the regional
population will climb from 570,000 people
to 1.1 million people in 2050.
The State Government wants to help key
regional towns in the south to prepare for
this population growth, and to help them
create job opportunities to attract new
residents from Perth, interstate and overseas.
In July 2011, it announced 'SuperTowns',
an initiative of the Royalties for Regions
program, which is investing mining and
onshore petroleum royalties in regional areas.
The towns were selected based on their
strategic role and function, growth potential
and support of the local community
for growth. Nine towns were chosen:
Boddington, Collie, Esperance, Jurien Bay,
Katanning, Manjimup, Margaret River,
Morawa, and Northam.
"SuperTowns and neighbouring
communities were encouraged to think
aspirationally and consider what would
be needed to attract new residents and
investment, before setting a vision for
future growth," Oades says, adding that
SuperTowns are now preparing 'Growth
Plans', which outline how government,
community and the private sector can work
together to deliver their vision.
The towns have received $5.5 million
in funding to undertake strategic planning
and prepare the Growth Plans. Another
$80 million has been made available to
help launch 'transformational' projects that
would support growth.
Collie, for example, received $11 million
to revitalise the town centre and undertake
environmental improvements to the
Collie River water way. Margaret River
received $3.46 million to help redevelop its
Surfers Point precinct, including installing
improved visitor facilities, picnic areas and
landscaping and retaining wall construction.
Oades says there is potential to double the
populations of each SuperTown in the south
west by 2031 and that jobs creation will be
vital to attract significantly more people.
She adds that one of the key aims of the
SuperTowns policy is to support business and
investment opportunities and to stimulate
jobs creation. As part of their Growth Plans,
the Commission has prepared economic
development strategies that identify
opportunities for industry and job growth.
Oades says that Manjimup, for example,
has identified the potential to capitalise on
its existing agricultural base by supporting
agricultural expansion. The town received
$6.95 million to help create a food council
and projects to investigate new agricultural
industry development and training.
The population surge is expected to have
a significant impact on the housing market.
Oades says the Growth Plans will support
land use planning and the timely delivery of
infrastructure and ser vices required for land
and housing development.
The WA property market
Wester n Australia's south west region, which
includes the major towns of Busselton and
Bunbury, as well as the Margaret River
tourism area, has typified the state's property
roller coaster ride, with prices more than
doubling from 2003 to 2007, then falling
back to 2005/2006 levels in recent times.
But in a trend seen throughout the state
and in the capital Perth, a shortage of houses
and strong population growth is expected
to create a recovery in prices and activity as
early as next year.
"We expect a recovery in the [south
west] market towards the end of next year,"
says Shane Greaves, Managing Director of
valuers Her ron Todd White in Busselton.
"We'll start to see values increase again due
to lower than average housing constr uction
in the last few years."
A number of south west towns, including
Collie, Manjimup and Margaret River, are
set to benefit from the State Government's
SuperTowns policy funding, while the
proposed expansion of Busselton airport
could boost the number of miners living in
the area and also increase tourist numbers
to the region.
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