Ballina moving up in the world
By Dawn Cohen
Ballina will need high-density housing in the CBD and Sydney-style suburban villages to cope with a burgeoning aged population, a government planner has said.
Des Schroder, the North Coast regional director for the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, has painted a vision of the town based on the latest demographic report for the next 50 years.
He will plan the future of Ballina and the North Coast in meetings with councils over the next 12 months.
By the end of the year he hopes to have a consolidated vision for the area.
The NSW State and Regional Population Projections, 2001-2051, predicts the North Coast will have the highest ageing population in the country.
Mr Schroder said the greater number of older residents would demand a planning rethink for the coastal region.
"Older people often choose smaller dwellings," he said.
"We may need to bring more people in closer into Ballina (CBD) as is happening in cities all over the world.
"It will be more high-rise like in Sydney, but not to the same extent, at least not initially.
"Possibly more around three storeys."
In Sydney 17 per cent of the population is aged over 60 compared with 23 per cent on the coast and 24.1 per cent in Ballina.
"By the year 2021 34 per cent of North Coast residents will be over 60," Mr Schroder said.
He concedes many Ballina Shire residents want a village lifestyle within green buffer zones.
"How do you do that with a greater population?" he said.
"It depends how you see a village.
"In Sydney there are many village-style locations within the city itself."
The North Coast's silver-haired population explosion is caused by ageing baby boomers and the sea change phenomenon.
An ageing population needs door-to-
door transport, Mr Schroder believes.
"Even if you have trains, people need to get to them," he said.
"If they can't drive then we need buses and possibly community-care transport.
"These ideas are open to debate."
However, the department won't be surveying residents on what they want.
"There is a lot of data available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics," Mr Schroder said.