GROWTH in education and health could re-establish Orange’s status as the biggest regional centre in the central west.
In the latest population projections from NSW Planning and Environment, based on historical data, Orange is set to fall behind the population growth of Bathurst and Dubbo. Bathurst will swell to a population of 51,550 by 2031, Dubbo will grow to a city of 46,500 people and Orange will lag third with 46,250 people.
NSW Planning and Environment senior demographer Kim Johnstone said between 2006 and 2011 more people left Orange than came here to live.
She said Bathurst had a natural population projection “bulge” in the 20-24 years age group with university students coming into the city, however the projection that Bathurst would pull ahead of Orange by the year 2031 was not set in stone.
“Our data is based on what is likely to happen,” she said.
Ms Johnstone said the growth of Charles Sturt University’s Orange campus and the health service on Forest Road could hold the key to more people continuing to move here than leave.
“Orange has the potential for change afoot which we are watching in relation to migration and people coming in to live,” Ms Johnstone said.
“Orange is on a good trajectory and in a good position.”
Orange mayor John Davis is optimistic about the city’s future.
“When you look at our 260 development applications for new homes last year in Orange to the value of $50 million that’s great news,” he said.
“Orange is also very proud of the fact that we are ahead of other places with the biggest growth in the 0-4 [years] age group of any city in regional NSW - that makes it all about families, which are our future.”
Ms Johnstone said the population data showed people moving to Orange and Bathurst weren’t just leaving bigger cities.
“People are moving from overseas to live,” she said.