The pandemic closures have made Jimmy Mtashar realize how starved his neighborhood outside of Sydney is of services.
“When you realize you can’t get to a store within 5 miles, or you can’t get to an amusement park or whatever within 5 miles, you realize there really is a lack of services in the area,” he said.
In the southern suburb of M. Mtashar, parks are not the only thing missing.
He says roads, schools, stormwater infrastructure and public transport are all in short supply.
Austral, in the southwest of Sydney, is among Australia’s main growth areas.
More than 10,000 people live in Austral and Greendale, according to the latest estimate from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2020.
In 20 years, it is expected to be home to more than 64,000 people – a 500% increase – winning the award for the suburb with the highest predicted population growth in New South Wales.
The number of people who call NSW home is expected to rise by a third over the next 20 years, reaching 10.6 million in 2041.
Of these, 3.5 million are expected to be in regional areas, an increase of 400,000 from today’s number.
While suburbs like Austral will bear the brunt of growth, almost every corner of Sydney is expected to feel more congested.
The table below shows projected population changes in New South Wales between 2020 and 2041 using ABS SA2 zones, which range in size from 3,000 to 25,000 people.
Forecasts are based on birth, death and migration rates.
You can use the chart to research and see how your suburb should change – if your area doesn’t show up, try one nearby.
This map visualizes projected population changes from the dataset to show the changing face of Sydney.
Darker areas are expected to experience the largest population increases.
This following map shows the projected population change across NSW using the ABS SA2 zones.
To house the population, 30,000 to 40,000 new homes need to be built every year over the next five years, with over a million needed in Greater Sydney by 2041, according to NSW government modelling.
To achieve these goals, each local government area (LGA) in Sydney must pull its weight.
Targets range from 16,500 to 18,500 new homes in the Blacktown LGA, to just 150 to 200 in the small Hunters Hill LGA on Sydney Harbour.
Click on the areas below to see the expected number of new homes that will need to be built to meet pressure from Sydney.
Some established suburban areas will begin to look more like downtown.
Around 30,000 more people will be living in Liverpool – which is around 40km from the CBD – by 2041, bringing the population density to the same level as Glebe city centre.
On Sydney’s North Shore, Ku-ring-gai council has pledged to build 3,000 to 3,500 new homes by 2026.
Its green suburbs extend to the national park of the same name.
Lindfield resident Kathy Curran, president of Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment, says the 2026 targets are achievable based on already approved developments and existing zoning.
But she says a projected population growth of 15% through 2041 is not.
Unlike Austral, where farmland is rezoned as residential, Ku-ring-gai has limited open space where new homes can be built.
“Ku-ring-gai is not a pristine site. It looks like many established suburbs overwhelmed by these massive increases that will forever change the character of our area,” she says.
The population of Ku-ring-gai has grown by around 20% over the past 20 years, which she says has put pressure on infrastructure such as schools and roads, and on the local community in general. .
“Over the past 15 years we have seen the massive destruction of an extraordinary number of heritage homes, the loss of tree canopy and the push of new homes into what were fire exclusion zones. bush,” she says.
Ms Curran says the growth will also put pressure on endangered tall blue gum forest and Sydney turpentine ironbark forest in the area where most of the development is taking place.
“This high growth program is clearly not environmentally sustainable in an area of high environmental and heritage importance. In fact, this population growth is not sustainable,” she says.
COVID has changed everything
NSW’s population forecast was made in 2019, before the pandemic hit.
Since then, there has been a massive increase in the number of people working from home, an exodus from cities to regional areas and the closing of international borders has led to a drop in the number of people migrating to Australia.
The number of people living in Sydney in 2030 is now expected to be 337,400 fewer than projected in 2019 due to the pandemic, according to the Commonwealth Center for Population.
Ms Curran says the LGA’s housing targets should be scaled down accordingly.
A spokesperson for the Greater Sydney Commission – the NSW government agency that sets housing targets – said projections beyond 2026 were being reviewed in light of updated evidence.
Somwrita Sarkar, an urban data scientist from the University of Sydney, says it’s hard to predict how the pandemic will affect population growth, but the geographic shift has already begun.
“A large company might decide to have remote regional offices, which serve as secondary hubs, and might have people working from home two or three days a week,” she says.
She says economic investment in regional areas offers an opportunity to reduce housing pressure on Sydney.
“Sydney is extremely expensive and unaffordable, but if you give people good jobs, good places to live, good lifestyle, then people will go to the smaller towns,” she says.
Home prices in the port city rose by more than $1,100 a day last year, pushing the median above $1.6 million, according to CoreLogic.
The pandemic has seen the biggest migration from Australian capitals to regional areas in 20 years, with numbers doubling from 2019 to 2020, according to ABS data.
Demographic pain is already being felt in Australia.
Mr. Mtashar’s two children attend the local public school.
It is now at capacity, with registrations up 25% over the past 12 months.
“Our school takes on the challenge of having new students continuously. We have a new student this week and new students next week because [people] finish building their house, they move in and change schools,” Mr Mtashar said.
There is no public high school in Austral and land reserved for this purpose was sold to a private college in 2020.
A spokesman for the Department of Education said it was committed to planning for the future growth of the southern region to ensure the provision of appropriate learning infrastructure.
“In the wider South West Sydney region, 12 new and upgraded schools have been delivered since the start of 2019 with over six projects still ongoing,” they said.
Mr Mtashar says negotiating traffic jams, potholes in the roads and flash flooding after storms are all part of everyday life.
A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council, which includes Austral in its LGA, said it was carrying out regular road maintenance, as well as upgrades to stormwater infrastructure.
“While Council works with developers to establish temporary measures for roads and stormwater systems that have yet to be upgraded, continued development progress in the area will result in the delivery of a standard high infrastructure in terms of roads and drainage,” they said.
According to Dr Sarkar, identifying where homes are actually being built, rather than building approvals, would lead to better planning decisions.
“Because we have to know, where do we put the schools and the bus stops and all that social infrastructure,” she says.
A spokesman for NSW’s planning department said more than 350 infrastructure projects were underway to support housing growth and the contribution system was being reformed to ensure infrastructure was delivered to the right moment.
Mr Mtashar says the next few years in Australia will be difficult.
“We’re looking at a number of years of pain and slow growth,” he says.
However, he does not regret his decision to build his house there.
“I wanted to live somewhere where my home is where my heart is,” he says.