BATHURST will be the largest regional centre in the Central West and Orana regions by 2031, according to recently released population projections.
Bathurst will swell to a population of 51,550 by 2031, beating out Dubbo which is projected to reach 46,500 people – and Orange, which could reach 46,250 people, according to projections from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
Based on figures from 2011, the Bathurst population will increase by more than 29 per cent, while the population will increase by around 15.53 per cent in Dubbo, around 17.39 per cent in Orange, around a 8.91 per cent increase in the Mid Western Regional Council and an 8.33 per cent increase in Blayney.
The population in Parkes is also projected to see slight growth, however the population is expected to decline in Lithgow, Oberon, Cowra, Forbes and Wellington.
Overall, the projections indicate populations across the 20 local government areas in the Central West and Orana region will grow to around 299,550 people, around a 8.2 per cent increase on the 2011 population of 276,850 people.
The population data also showed there will be a significant increase in the percentage of people aged 65 or older. Around 72,450 people (24 per cent) will be senior citizens,169,800 people (57 per cent) will be between the age of 15 and 54, and 57,300 people (19 per cent) are projected to be under the age of 15.
The Department of Planning and Environment will use the figures for a new generation of strategic plans called Regional Growth Plans, which they will be developing for different regions across the state.
In June, the State Government released new draft regional boundaries, which grouped the Central West and Orange regions together.
Once all the boundaries for each region have been finalised, the department will begin on the plans, which will help council’s and the government create a strategy for sustainable growth and change.
Apart from looking at population, household and dwelling projections for the region, the Regional Growth Plan will also look at the region’s major employers, which according to the department, include agriculture, school and preschool education, and other store-based retailing.
The Regional Growth Plan will identify areas suitable for housing and employment expansion in the region.
Not all parts of the region are projected to grow equally, and as such the plan will identify strategies to ensure population sustainability and to manage population decline.