Regional strategy to be reviewed

THE State Government will review its Far North CoastRegional Strategy in the wake of new predictions of a coastal population boom on the Northern Rivers.

Figures released this week predict massive spikes in population in the Ballina, Byron and Tweed shires, but little growth inland.

Figures for Casino predict the town’s population willactually contract between now and 2031.

The Government yesterday released a new 2036 figure for Lismore – previously its projections had only stretched to 2031 – flagging an increase of 5000 residents, or 11.3 per cent, over the next 26 years.

The figures had caused some consternation over the ability of local infrastructure to cope with the new arrivals.

In Byron Shire, mayor Jan Barham had questioned the accuracy of the figures, saying the developable land highlighted in the regional strategy would not provide enough housing to fit a 44pc population increase unless there was a radical increase in housing density.

A spokesman for Planning Minister Paul Kelly said the projections were based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data and pointed to trends in population growth, rather than government policy.

The spokesman said the purpose of the figures was to help plan future infrastructure.

The spokesman also rejected claims by Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell that the Gov-ernment was stifling growth in Lismore by limiting the land that could be released.

“The department has previously endorsed council’s own land release strategy, and has also advised council that it is prepared to consider any approach to bring forward land identified for fut-ure residential use in the Far North Coast Regional Strategy as a release area,” he said.

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