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Demand 'seriously' exceeds supply for key building assets

13 October, 2014

Serious shortfalls or oversupply are expected for key building assets – including hospital beds, office, retail and industrial space plus housing – in communities around Australia, according to new forecasts released by the Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF).

ACIF's Demand Driven Forecasts 2014 start with population changes expected in 21 locales around Australia, determine the future needs of these communities, compared to the current and planned supply of each asset type.

Some regions will have been struggling to meet the needs of the community, yet other regions will see an oversupply of assets as the projected population will have a reduced need for some building types.

"Effective urban planning will only happen with sound information on asset supply and demand," said Peter Barda, Executive Director of the Australian Construction Industry Forum, publisher of the Demand Driven Forecasts.

"Peering into the looking glass of the population we expect in 21 regions, we can see how their needs are set to change.

"Authorities have the chance now to plan for construction or re-use of community and other assets."

Barda was keen for readers of the Demand Driven Forecasts to understand the nature of the forecasts, however.

"These Forecasts rely upon the published building and construction plans of governments. In some cases the Demand Driven Forecasts highlight where plans have not been released – or possibly made – and the potential gaps if action isn't taken," he said.

The Demand Drive Forecasts include charts for population projections to 2050, and the forecasts supply and demand for seven asset types to 2020. Matching the projected demand and supply for each asset is a 'traffic light' chart, highlighting the gaps.

The Demand Driven Forecasts use source data from government reports plus major project information from Cordell Information. Expert forecasters ACIL Allen Consulting analyse the data to produce the Demand Driven Forecasts for ACIF.

The Demand Driven Forecasts are part of the ACIF Forecasts, a suite of industry forecasts that provide the building and construction industry and its clients with a 'compass' to the future, so they plan to survive and thrive changing market conditions.

ACIF Forecasts include a ten-year outlook for work demand, labour requirements, major projects and the costs of building and construction.

This work is supported by Principal Partner Cbus, plus Australian Institute of Architects, DesignBuild Expo, Cordell Information, Engineers Australia, Property Council of Australia and Viewpoint Construction Software.

Demand Driven Forecasts - Region Highlights

Australian Capital Territory - Canberra

Canberra's population in 2013 was approximately 381,000 people. Just over 200,000 people are expected to be added to this figure by 2050, with the population estimated to be around 590,000.

Classrooms: Demand for classrooms is expected to outstrip supply for much of the projection period.

New South Wales


The Greater Sydney population is projected to increase from 4.78 million people to 7.2 million people by 2050.

Hospital beds: Demand for hospital beds in Sydney is anticipated to outstrip that of supply towards the end of the decade.

Newcastle and Lake Macquarie

The population of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie is forecast to remain relatively stable at around 390,000 by 2050.

Houses: At present there is an undersupply of new house additions in the Newcastle Lake Macquarie region, however this trend is set to reverse in the longer term as the number of new houses built outpaces demand.


There is expected to be a significant demographic shift towards 50-60 year olds reflecting the aging of the current peak population group in the 16-24 year age bracket.

New attached dwellings: New attached dwellings is anticipated to be in excess supply in Wollongong through to 2020.

Northern Territory - Darwin

In 2013, the Greater Darwin region had a population of approximately 135,500 people. There is an expected gradual increase in population to around 179,000 by 2050.

Houses: Housing supply is projected to be on a marginal increasing trend for much of the projection period, resulting in a cumulative excess supply of new houses by period end.



Greater Brisbane's population in 2050 is projected to be approximately 3.81 million – equivalent to an approximately 1.54 million increase from the 2.27 million in 2013.

Office space: Several new offices are in the pipeline for Brisbane, including the Eight Mile Plains Office Park and Queen Street Office Tower. These new developments will result in an excess supply of office space in Brisbane in the short to medium term future.


Total population in Cairns in 2013 was estimated at around 156,000.  This number is set to grow to 275,500 by 2050.

Hospital beds: The Cairns Base Hospital Redevelopment will contribute to adding new beds to the region. Overall, an excess supply of hospital beds is anticipated.

Gold Coast/Tweed

The Gold Coast/Tweed population is projected to grow from approximately 550,000 people in 2013 to 878,000 by 2050.

Houses: Following an initial excess demand of new houses, supply is expected to outpace demand towards the end of the projection period.


Population in Mackay is projected to grow from approximately 120,000 in 2013 to 214,000 in 2050.

Houses: The supply of new houses is projected to catch up to demand on an annual basis, by around year 2020. Despite this, an overall cumulative supply shortage is projected for new dwellings in Mackay throughout the projection period.


In 2013, Rockhampton had a population of approximately 117,000 people. Its population is expected to grow by just under 70,000 people over the next four decades to 185,000 by 2050.

Hospital beds: There is currently no additional hospital beds anticipated to be supplied in Rockhampton according to Cordell's project database. An ongoing supply deficit is projected as demand remains relatively constant.

Sunshine Coast

Total population in the Sunshine Coast in 2013 was approximately 328,000. This figure is projected to increase to 473,500 by 2050.

Houses: Supply of new houses is projected to grow at a faster pace than that of demand. This will result in an overall excess supply of houses towards the end of the projection period.


Toowoomba's population in 2013 was just under 150,000. This figure is projected to grow to around 224,000 by 2050.

Industrial space: Industrial space is expected to be in balance in the short to medium term, followed by a shortage of supply in the long term.


Total population in Townsville in 2013 was around 190,000. This number is projected to grow to approximately 319,000 by 2050.

Retail space: Retail space is projected to be in excess supply for much of the projection period. The first spike observed in the supply curve is the Fairfield Homemaker Centre, while the second spike represents the planned Willows Shopping Town Extension work.

South Australia - Adelaide

Adelaide's population is forecast to reach nearly 1.8 million by 2050. This is equivalent to a population increase by approximately 450,000 people.

Houses: Demand for houses in Adelaide has reduced this year but will steadily rise through to 2020. The excess demand for housing will decrease in the short to medium term, and we expect to see an excess supply in the market.

Tasmania – Hobart

Greater Hobart's total population was approximately 221,800 in 2013. This figure is expected to grow by just over 50,000 to 273,000 people by 2050.

Houses: Supply of new housing is projected to increase in Hobart, outstripping that of demand by 2015 on a per year basis. This will result in an excess supply of new houses by the end of the projection period.



The population of Melbourne is forecast to reach 5.6 million by 2029 and 7 million by the year 2050.

Retail space: The project pipeline for retail space in Melbourne is anticipated to taper-off in the medium term, at which point, demand will be in excess of supply.


The population of Ballarat will see a 40 per cent rise to 2050 with the bulk of the increase being seen in age groups over 14 years.

Classrooms: Investment in school facilities is currently limited compared to demand, resulting in excess demand towards the end of the decade.


The population of Geelong is set to reach just under 350,000 by 2050 with strong growth in the proportion of over-65 year olds.

Houses: Demand for housing is expected to remain below supply through to 2020.

Western Australia


The population of Perth is set to surge in the coming decades, growing from 1.8 million in 2013 to over 3.7 million by 2050.

Industrial space: Investment in industrial space is limited in the medium to long term future, resulting in excess demand for industrial space by period end.


Mandurah's population in 2013 was approximately 91,700 people. The region's population is anticipated to double by 2050 to 180,000 people.

Hospital beds: There is currently no major hospital developments registered in Cordell Information's database. Demand for beds is anticipated to grow steadily as the population of the region grows.


A surge in population is expected for Pilbara over the next four decades, growing from 68,000 people in 2013 to 175,000 people by the year 2050.

Industrial space: The Pilbara is expected to see significant investment in industrial space in the years to come, resulting in a sustained excess supply over the projection period. This includes spending on, among other things, major gas, ports and iron ore projects.

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