Seniors flock to Northern New South Wales coastal lifestyle
NORTHERN New South Wales may in future be dubbed "the Grey Coast", if predictions prove true.
ABC North Coast NSW reports that a draft regional plan for the state's north coast has been released predicting the population will grow by more than 97,000 over the next 20 years.
The report says 90% of that growth will be people over the age of 65 who will then make up almost one-third of the region's overall population.
Over 65s currently comprise about 20% of the north coast's population.
Parliamentary secretary for the north coast, Chris Gulaptis, told the ABC that the challenge would be to find ways to keep younger people in the region.
"We have been called 'God's waiting room', but we are trying to manage that," he said.
"We are trying to bring in younger families and that will happen through bringing in the university to Tweed Heads and, essentially, encouraging other industries and manufacturing.
"Albeit, we know the major population is ageing and aged."
Northern NSW Health Service chief of staff Wayne Jones said plans were already in place to deal with the situation.
"We've understood the growing and ageing population challenge coming our way for a long period of time," Mr Jones said.
"Obviously we have an aged-care plan but, more specifically, it's when you're looking at some of your capital infrastructure.
"Some of the builds we're doing around Byron Central Hospital, some of the capital works at Lismore, the planning for work at Tweed and Clarence, a lot of those are built for a range of reasons, and core to that is the ageing population."
The draft plan suggests new homes, jobs and services will be directed primarily to the region's cities - Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads - where two-thirds of the population growth over the next 20 years will be accommodated.
New housing will be accelerated in the cities and in other centres across the region to make the most of existing services, to meet the community's different housing needs - particularly the ageing community - and to improve affordability.
New release areas - including Cumbalum, Kings Forest, Cobaki, Brimbin and Thrumster - will also provide for more housing and greater housing choice.