Bucking the trend
By ADRIAN MILLER
STATE planners predict the population of Grafton could fall by 12 per cent over the next 30 years, bucking the trend of the rest of the Clarence Valley, which should see the population steadily increase over the same period.
In a report released by the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR), the population of the Valley overall is set to increase by 10,000 between 2001-2031, while the town centre of Grafton will drop by more than 2500 people.
While the figures appear disconcerting, DIPNR regional director Des Schroder said they could not be viewed in isolation.
"You've got to be careful looking just at Grafton figures (because) you have to look at the areas around it and the reality is the area around it is going to grow by about 10,000," he said.
Mr Schroder said the projected statistics for Grafton only consider the town centre itself, leaving out the growth areas close by.
"A lot of the growth in Grafton the last few years has been around the suburbs and not necessarily just in Grafton. (Areas like) Junction Hill, Clarenza, those sorts of places, are out of the Grafton boundary."
Clarence Valley Council (CVC) planning and environment director Rob Donges said long-term population projections could prove unreliable.
"Long-term projections based on current demographic trends can be dangerous ground because if the nature of Grafton changes ... you're likely to attract more young people to replace the ageing population," he said.
The statistics, which come from New South Wales Statistical Local Area Population Projections 2001-2031 report, are based on historical and previous Census data to give projections for the population from 2001 to 2031.
They show the former Copmanhurst Shire will experience the biggest growth in percentage terms over the next 25 years, with a rise in population of seven and a half percent to 6640 people by 2031. The area that was the former Maclean Shire will rise to 24,150 people, an increase of seven per cent. Pristine Waters (Nymboida) will rise to 5260, a jump of more than three per cent, while Pristine Waters (Ulmarra) will stand at 8280 people in 2031, a rise of more than four-and-a-half per cent.