Redland City’s population growth has slowed dramatically according to a recent report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The latest population estimates raise questions about the planning assumptions being used by Redland City Council for its new planning scheme, City Plan 2015.
As at 30 June 2014, Redland City’s “Estimated Resident Population” was 148,641. This is an increase of 1,359 over the previous year’s figure.
The annual increase in Redland City’s population was 0.9%, the lowest for many years. This continues a clear trend for the City’s population growth to slow down, with average annual growth over the past 5 years being just 1.2%.
Over the past decade Queensland’s population has always grown more quickly than the population of Redland City. But in the last three years, Queensland’s average population growth rate (1.8%) has far outstripped that of the Redlands (1.1%).
This chart is prepared from data included in ABS Report 3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2013-14 released on 31 March 2015.
Population growth forecasts
Population data influences planning decisions made by State and local governments. Historical data is used as a baseline for long term forecasts of population growth. These growth projections are used to determine how much land may need to be available for new or redeveloped housing. Small changes in assumed growth rates can have significant impacts on long term forecasts.
Redland City Council has been advised that its new planning scheme, City Plan 2015, should provide for a 50,000 population increase. This assumption is part of the Redlands Land Supply Review 2014 by Urbis.
Urbis states in its report that “the long term growth rate for the Redland City Council area is 1.2% per annum”. (Page 19). In its report Urbis fails to comment on the implications if growth is greater or lesser than this figure. Modelling by Redlands2030 reveals that if the assumed growth rate is increased or decreased by 0.1% the City’s forecast population in 2041 varies by about 6,000 people. This is equivalent to adding or subtracting a new suburb.
Population projections in the Urbis report are only given for five year intervals. Analysis of the available figures indicates that Urbis has used a higher growth rate in earlier years and lower growth rates for the later years, as shown in the chart below.
The high growth rate projections used by Urbis for the period to 2021 now appear to be quite inconsistent with the City’s average growth rate over the past three years of 1.1%.
It is most concerning that planning for Redland City’s long term development may be based on population forecasts that now seem outdated and which may overstate the number of people that need to be accommodated.
Urbis’s population forecasts are based on projections made by Queensland Treasury in 2013. Urbis notes that it has corrected an “anomaly” in Treasury’s forecasts by using more accurate baseline data sourced from the 2011 Census.
Long term analysis should be based on multiple scenarios with discussion about key assumptions and their probability of occurrence.The Queensland Treasury provided its population projections as three series: high, medium and low. The Urbis report is based on just a single projection which is almost 100% certain to be wrong.
Redland City appears to have a shaky foundation for its 25 year City Plan.
This chart shows how the Urbis population growth forecasts vary over time. The average growth rates for each five year period have been calculated approximately, based on the five year data points provided by Urbis. For comparison, the red line plots the annual average population growth that actually occurred in Redland City over the past five years.