Waipa’s population will grow by 10,000 people to reach 56,400 in 2041 but will then drop to 51,800 by 2063 according to growth predictions released by the Waipa District Council.
Cambridge and surrounding areas will be home to 25,000 people by 2040 – up from 17,300 today. Te Awamutu-Kihikihi will reach around 17,600 by 2040 before numbers also start to decline.
In comparison to the growth in Waipa’s main townships, the rural population looks set to continue steadily reducing over the next 40 years.
The data prepared by the University of Waikato, Market Economics Ltd and the Waikato Regional Council was discussed by councillors at a public workshop this week. It is critical to helping the council plan for the next 10–30 years and is being factored into proposals likely to go into the 2015-2025 draft 10-Year Plan.
Waipa District Council strategy manager Gary Knighton said the one of the most significant issues facing the district was its ageing population. By 2033, more than one third of Waipa’s population will be over 65, increasing to 43 per cent by 2063.
By 2033, around 5,500 people living in Waipa will be aged 70–74 ,making up the largest group of people in the district. From 2038, it’s predicted there will be more deaths than births in Waipa.
“Waipa is growing, but ageing, and we need to think about that as a community,” Mr Knighton said.
“It has implications in terms of the amenities we provide and the kinds of spaces we want to create. It also has implications for young people and those of working age and the role they will have in our communities in the future. ”
“We need to think about what this means in terms of what we spend on infrastructure – including on water – and in what timeframe.”
The population data also suggests there will be far more single-person households in Waipa in coming years. Currently, 23 per cent of people in the district live alone. By 2033, this is expected to rise to 29 per cent.
“This is significant. It will influence housing demand, and the type of housing wanted in our towns.”
Mr Knighton said while growth estimates were slightly lower than those projected six years ago, the decline in the rural population was no surprise and followed nation-wide trends.
“The reality is that in Waipa, we do want to concentrate our growth in our towns rather than see productive land sub-divided and taken out of production.”
Other projections suggest that the number of motor vehicles in Waipa will increase by around 38 per cent from 2013 to 2033. Vehicle numbers are predicted to peak in 2040.
Media enquiries to Jeanette Tyrrell (on behalf of Council) 027 5077 599