BENDIGO will need 200 less new homes every year by 2027, compared to a world where COVID-19 never happened, experts say.
The prediction comes in a new book that casts doubt on widespread media reports about everything from shifting work patterns to housing shortages.
"There has been a steady narrative in the press about the great 'move to the regions' triggered by COVID-19," consultancy firm ID stated in the eBook.
"We've heard that people are fleeing lockdowns, working from home, and heading out to where housing is affordable, the commute isn't an issue and life is good."
ID is not convinced it is part of a new trend.
It has compared Australian Bureau of Statistics data from September 2020 to the same period a year earlier.
"We see departures from metropolitan areas such as Sydney and Melbourne were more or less the same as the year before," ID said.
"The actual story is that arrivals from elsewhere were down."
Regional Victoria and New South Wales saw less people departing in September 2020, even if those arriving were not significantly higher.
The City of Greater Bendigo is among councils eyeing population projections as it deals with a short-term land shortage.
The shortage of land ready to develop into housing has been blamed on COVID-19, which prompted a housing rush as people cashed in on government stimulus money.
Real estate agents have also reported increased interest in Bendigo homes from people in Melbourne.
ID believes Bendigo will need 152 less homes every year by 2024. The shortfall will expand out to 308 by 2041.
The city typically had somewhere between 737 and 1856 subdivisions every year in the decade to 2018, previously released City of Greater Bendigo statistics show.
The number rises and falls depending on when large housing tracts become available and as developers predict when land will be needed.
Bendigo council executive Craig Niemann recently said it was too early to tell how COVID-19 might impact the council's projections that the population will reach 200,000 people by 2050.
He said the council was still amassing data before making any changes to those projections.
The ID predictions will likely provide food for thought for Bendigo's city planners.
ID says COVID-19 has shaved 1.9 million people off of its population predictions for Australia by 2041.
The population shock will impact demand for housing and other services, the consultancy warned.
"It will change the makeup of the people living in those houses and therefore the demand for services such as utilities, childcare, and aged care," it said.
The greater Melbourne area alone could have 166,000 less homes.
The shortfall will likely be fueled by sluggish migration from overseas and fewer births, given that those migrants will be raising their families elsewhere.
The impact will be felt most keenly in areas where new migrants tend to settle, like parts of Melbourne, ID found.
"If you're planning over a 15-year+ horizon, the story is simple: fewer dwellings are forecast to be built in all regions, but most significantly in the inner city and growth areas," ID found.
To view ID's new eBook Demographic delays: how closed borders will impact the future demand for services, click here.
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