Northern Rivers population to grow by 27,000 over 20 years

THE population of the Northern Rivers is predicted to grow by more than 27,000 in the next 20 years, but are we ready?

Houses, infrastructure and jobs on the wish lists of Northern Rivers mayors.

To tackle the growth projected by the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure, a new planning system will be implemented to ensure the region has sufficient housing, employment and infrastructure to sustain the population.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said the council was working with the State to open land releases around the area, including 1500 to 2000 houses on the North Lismore plateau.

"The only way we can accommodate more people is if we have got more housing, and that also stimulates the economy through building those houses," she said.

Ballina mayor David Wright said the shire had the land to accommodate more than 10,000 people but lacked some vital pieces of infrastructure to match the growth.

He said the community needed funding for a new marine rescue tower, the expansion of Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, a sports centre and to upgrade the Olympic pool.

With the Tweed Shire population predicted to grow by 15,900 in 20 years, mayor Barry Longland said infrastructure was the key element to allow growth in the region.

Cr Longland said money for roads, sewerage, water and drainage was needed before land could be released.

"We have urban land releases identified to meet demand. What always lags is the infrastructure to meet that," he said.

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