The Yass Valley can no longer lay claim to the title of the fastest growing Local Government Area (LGA) outside of metropolitan Sydney, according to statistics released by the ABS.
A year ago the Yass Valley was the sixth fastest growing area in the state but has slipped back to 14th position, a spot which mayor Nic Carmody said is still “extremely high”.
“It just goes to show the secret’s out,” Cr Carmody said. “They’re all realising it’s such a beautiful place to live.”
The Yass Valley is equal third fastest growing area outside of Sydney. It is equal with Gloucester and Cessnock in the Hunter region but falls behind Maitland, also in the Hunter and Orange in the Central West.
“I imagine the growth areas of Maitland and Orange are mining related,” the mayor said.
He said Yass didn’t have the booming industry of mining to attract people and so was relying on its other strengths.
“It’s such an accessible place, and not just to Canberra… it’s the gateway to Sydney, Melbourne and western NSW.”
Overall growth had slowed in the area to June 2011; the growth rate of 1.9 per cent matched that of the ACT but was down from the previous year’s estimate of 2.8 per cent.
Yass Real Estate principal Michael Gray said the growth slow down had translated to the real estate market.
“Certainly the market is not booming,” he said. “But developers are still quite positive. We’ve got projects on the go at the moment that are doing well… it’s just slow to sell.”
Mr Gray said the market had a direct correlation with Canberra and when housing booms in Canberra again it would have an impact in the Yass Valley.
Of the LGAs surrounding Canberra, the Yass Valley had the greatest population growth. Palerang was on the NSW list at number 25, with a 1.4 per cent increase. Queanbeyan had a 0.8 per cent increase, slightly below the state growth rate of 1.1 per cent.
Mr Gray said information he collected from council shows the population in the Yass Valley in the decade to 2011 increased by 65 per cent.
The mayor recognised there were often issues linked to dramatic population growth.
“The most important thing about growth is that it’s carefully controlled,” Cr Carmody said.
He noted that council had procedures and policies in place to ensure the average rate payer didn’t foot the costs of the increase of populations on infrastructure.
Developers have to pay council’s Section 94 contributions and Cr Carmody said that covered costs such as road repairs and facilities. He said slowly those contributions would add to the appeal of the Yass Valley through new parks and facilities.
The mayor said growth in Yass town would mean more residents would be bearing the costs of the Yass Dam wall improvements.
“There will be more people to share that burden of the new dam… which is positive for older residents,” he said.
The ABS data is modelled on the latest available estimates of the resident populations of areas of Australia as at 30 June and produced using 2006 census data and mathematical models.
A Yass Valley Council representative was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.