MUCH more than lucky geography is behind Bathurst’s booming population, according to mayor Graeme Hanger.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment predicts Bathurst will be the fourth-fastest growing regional local government area over the next 20 years as another 12,000 people move to the area, representing a 38.2 per cent jump in population since 2011.
The only regional local government areas that are predicted to grow more quickly than Bathurst are Queanbeyan-Palerang (which is forecast to grow by 57.2pc on its 2011 population), Maitland (50pc) and Yass (49.8pc).
Cr Hanger said what separated Bathurst’s growth from its fellow booming regional cities was proximity to a large metropolitan area.
Maitland, about 35 kilometres from Newcastle, and Yass and Queanbeyan, 60km and 20km from Canberra respectively, could be considered as “satellite” cities, he said.
“Individuals and families relocating to these ‘satellite’ cities can therefore benefit from cheaper real estate prices, and are still able to travel into Canberra and Newcastle for work and send their kids to the same school,” he said.
“The profile of those who move to Yass, Maitland and Queanbeyan is different to those who relocate to Bathurst.
Lithgow is closer to Sydney, for example, but does not experience anywhere near the high growth that Bathurst experiences.
“People who relocate to Bathurst from Sydney cannot retain their Sydney job and travel there each day for work, nor are they able to keep their children in the same Sydney school, so people who relocate here desire to start a new life in Bathurst away from the congestion and expenses of Sydney.”
Bathurst is around 200 kilometres from Sydney, but it is not this fact alone that is drawing people to the area, Cr Hanger said.
“Lithgow is closer to Sydney, for example, but does not experience anywhere near the high growth that Bathurst experiences,” he said.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s prediction is for Lithgow’s population to actually decrease from 2011 to 2036.
“Our proximity to Sydney has significant impact on our growth, however, Bathurst also draws families and young adults from the surrounding local government areas,” Cr Hanger said.
“As an example, according to our Australia Post relocation data for May 2017, 40 per cent of relocations were from Sydney/Blue Mountains and 60 per cent were from Western NSW, Riverina and the North Coast.”
Cr Hanger said relocations to Bathurst were primarily driven by lifestyle factors including a better work/life balance, real estate prices and education, the availability of jobs and the ability to travel to or from Sydney in two-and-a-half to three hours.
“It is not just one factor alone that makes Bathurst attractive, it is a combination of lifestyle, housing, jobs, our proximity to Sydney and the ability to start fresh,” he said.
WHILE Bathurst is predicted to grow to 55,250 people in 2036 (from 39,950 in 2011), Orange is predicted to grow to 48,750 in 2036 (from 39,400 in 2011).
Dubbo Regional Council, which includes Dubbo and Wellington, is predicted to grow to 56,600 people in 2036 (from 49,100 in 2011).