THE Brighton Municipality’s growth over the next 25 years is predicted to be the fastest and strongest in Tasmania, with the population expected to increase to nearly 23,000 people by 2042.
At the same time, Brighton is the only local government area in the State to achieve sustainable growth from a combination of migration and natural increase.
The bold prediction is contained in the latest report on regional population trends from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for the Study of Social Change.
Researchers, Dr Lisa Denny and Nyree Pisanu report that Brighton is expected to be the fastest-growing local government area in percentage terms, with an average annual growth rate of 1.18 per cent, or total growth of 33.9 per cent over the period. This assumes a continuing strong net migration inflow and one of the highest fertility rates in Tasmania.
As the youngest municipality in the State, Brighton is not expected to experience the fall in natural increase projected for other areas. It is projected to be one of only four local government areas to continue to have natural increase at the end of the projection period, the others being Burnie, Glenorchy and Hobart.
The researchers point out that population change is already uneven across the State. Migration from interstate and overseas has helped drive an overall increase in recent years, but this has overwhelmingly favoured the major cities.
But the often-overlooked reality is that the best population projections suggest the number of people living in Tasmania will start to decline by mid-century and indeed, more than half of the State’s 29 local government areas (LGAs) are already losing population and decline is projected for most of the remaining areas over the next 25 years.
Recent gains in internal migration have shifted Brighton’s profile to sustainable from natural increase to sustainable, with a current balance between growth from natural increase and migration.
Brighton boasts a young population with a high fertility rate, above the population replacement rate and a balanced aged structure between non-working and working-age groups.
Brighton Mayor, Tony Foster said the UTAS report provided vital information for all levels of government to assist in their planning to meet the future needs of the community.
“Brighton Council has long been aware of our current and projected population growth and we’ve factored this into our planning and development processes and strategies,” Cr Foster said.
“That’s why we have pushed hard for projects like the new Brighton High School and Bridgewater Bridge replacement, as well as our own initiatives such as housing and economic development along with the upgrading of community services and facilities.
“The reality is that over the next two decades the growth will position Brighton as significantly bigger than Burnie and similar in size to Devonport and we have to provide the services and facilities to meet the needs of our future community.”
Cr Foster said the planning needed to be undertaken now.
“As well as our local services, schools and education facilities, we’ll need significantly enhanced public transport, community safety, health and ancillary services and much more, if we are to cater for the predicted increase in Brighton’s population.
“This comprehensive report from the Institute for the Study of Social Change provides some vital information and projections that we cannot ignore and I look forward to discussing the implications with the State Government and our Federal representatives at the earliest opportunity,” Cr Foster said.