Call to cap Tweed growth

By PETER CATON

LOCAL conservationists are warning the Tweed should consider a population cap as pressure grows for more housing to accommodate thousands of people heading south from the crowded Gold Coast.

Co-ordinator of the Caldera Environment Centre, Paul Hopkins, yesterday warned a population cap was 'an issue we have to have a look at', saying housing growth could degrade both the environment and existing property values.

Earlier this month a prominent Brisbane-based real estate consultant warned the Gold Coast had become so congested that growing numbers of young families were heading south to the Tweed and Byron, where beachfront and beachside land prices remain competitive in relation to the Gold Coast.

Mr Hopkins said the time had come to look at the impacts of this trend.

"West Murwillumbah has already totally changed," he said. "Unless you want to have Mt Warning rising out of a sea of suburbia you will have to consider a population cap.

"I know it would be unpopular with real estate people, but if you make land scarcer I don't see it would be bad for people's investments in purely economic terms.

"The time has probably already come when rainforest blocks bring more than cleared blocks around here.

"If we keep on expanding we are just degrading the resource base and land values."

Mr Hopkins said the alternative to an eventual population cap was convincing people to change their lifestyles to use fewer resources, especially water.

Mr Hopkins pointed out that some years ago Douglas Shire Council in Far North Queensland proposed a population cap with popular support to retain the quality of the area which includes Daintree National Park.

The Mt Warning caldera, he said, was just as worth protecting.

Latest real estate agency research show the average property price at Mermaid Beach is now approaching a staggering $10 million about three times the price of some of the best Byron Shire and Tweed Coast properties.

Michael Matusik, who heads Brisbane-based firm Matusik Property Insights and is one of Australia's leading residential property industry figures, said the Gold Coast was now too crowded, had too much traffic, not enough public transport and too many tourists.



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