Sunshine Coast SA4 Region, Queensland

The Sunshine Coast is a large and diverse region with significant population growth forecast. Home to some of Australia's largest master planned communities which are already underway, the lion's share of development over the next 20 years is forecast to happen in just one corner of the region.

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The insights and analysis behind our forecasts of population and dwellings for the Sunshine Coast SA4 Region of Queensland. 



How the big picture stories will impact the future population of the region.


How available housing and planned development are forecast to distribute population across the region.

Here are the key findings of our forecasts for the Sunshine Coast SA4 Region.

Read our full analysis below for a more in-depth view.

  1. The Sunshine Coast is forecast to be the fourth-fastest growing region (SA4) in Queensland over the next 20 years as it adds 125,000 people to reach a population of 525,000.
  2. The distribution of that growth throughout the region will be largely determined by just a few massive developments in the State Government's Priority Development Areas (PDAs). 64% of this growth is concentrated in the SA2s of Caloundra West, Landsborough and Maroochydore-Kuluin.
  3. The growth later in the forecast period attributed to the Beerwah East Future Investigation Area remains speculative at this stage (see the 'Keep in mind' tab).



.id's population forecasts are developed using a unique research process that balances both local and national drivers of population change. This video explains the process and assumptions behind each forecast we publish.

The analysis below shares our forecasters' top-down assumptions about the share of growth allocated to the region, as well as the significant sources of residential development that inform how the population is forecast to be distributed throughout the region (the bottom-up assumptions). For location-specific assumptions, contact our team here.


The Beerwah East Future Investigation Area

There is a significant potential development area between Beerwah, Landsborough and the Aura development that may add 20,000 dwellings to the region. While this area is referenced in State Government Planning documents there is not yet a precinct structure plan, so we do not know the specifics of exactly where this development will be located. 

By late in the forecasting period (mid 2030's), when Aura and the other major developments in the region have been completed, our top-down population 'target' (or constraint) requires around 5,000 additional dwellings to accommodate the forecast population. 

In the absence of a precinct structure plan, we have followed the State Government's forecasts which indicate growth in the Landsborough SA2. 

Given these precise development assumptions are speculative, we haven't broken this area down into our SAFi micro-geography.  This is the type of planning proposal that our team monitors. Updated information about this development will be incorporated in future forecast updates about the distribution of population in the region.

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Commentary and analysis from our specialist forecasters.

Johnny Barnard

Johnny Barnard

Principal forecaster
Liza Ivanova

Liza Ivanova

Population forecaster
Richard Thornton

Richard Thornton

Population forecaster

Chris Jones

Population forecaster
Oliver Bowering

Oliver Bowering

Population forecaster

John O'Leary

Forecast modelling

Geography and the role and function of place

As a region, the Sunshine Coast attracts young families, older parents and retirees. This contrasts with the Gold Coast which is much more reliant on overseas and inter-state migration. However, the Sunshine Coast is a diverse area and a great example of how the role and function of local areas can vary within a region, with significant implications for the housing markets it serves and the demographic profiles it attracts. 
Noosa Heads and Noosaville are, unsurprisingly, home to retirees, while Peregian Springs leans more to older families and retirees. Landsborough and Caloundra West both attract families and some retirees, while the University of the Sunshine Coast gives Sippy Downs its significantly younger age structure, and makes it one of the few sites away from the coast that is forecast to add more higher-density dwellings to service this student market. 



Public resources for local areas

Access our public resources for the Sunshine Coast Council and Noosa Shire Council LGAs.

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Do you work with local government?

If you're involved in planning local government services, we have a specialist population forecasting team that helps councils advocate for the needs of their community. Learn more about forecast.id here.

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Defining 'Regions'

The way we define places is fundamental to our forecasting process and to understanding the nuances of and interrelationships between places. In this review we use Region interchangeably with the technical term Statistical Area 4 or SA4. SA4s are designed by the ABS to represent labour markets and functional areas of Australia. You can read more about how SA4s are defined on the ABS website here.

From the top-down

How the big-picture stories will impact the future population of the Sunshine Coast

Before we started work forecasting in the Sunshine Coast, we completed a series of 'Top-down' forecasts.

  • National forecasts (How is the total population of Australia forecast to change?)
  • State and territory forecasts (What share of that growth will go to each State and Territory?)
  • State-to-SA4 forecasts (What share of the state's growth will go to each region of Queensland?

This 'top down' process ensures our forecasts for the Sunshine Coast region consider what's happening in other regions, states and territories, and account for the role and function of the Sunshine Coast within this context. Our bottom-up process then distributes the total forecast population for the region by matching people in households to available dwellings.

In our Queensland after Covid webinar, we discuss how favourable economic conditions, including a burgeoning renewables industry, defence spending and the 2032 Olympics informed our top-down forecasts for Queensland and its regions. 

Watch our Queensland after Covid webinar on here.

A constrained view of growth on the Sunshine Coast 

We forecast the Sunshine Coast will add around 125,378 people to reach a population of just over 525,000 by 2041.

This is slightly more conservative than the State Government's (pre-Covid) forecasts which have the region reaching 555,000 people in the same period. 

We certainly see the Sunshine Coast continuing to grow strongly, driven by the established demographic drivers of growth as it services retirees and families, particularly from Greater Brisbane (as opposed to the Gold Coast which has historically attracted more growth from overseas and interstate).

However, the top-down nature of our model means we can't forecast unrestrained growth everywhere. Instead, we have to make choices about how the total forecast growth for Australia, Queensland and the South-East corner of the state is shared among neighbouring regions including the Gold Coast, Ipswich, Logan-Beaudesert and Moreton Bay North and South, as well as the regions of inner-Brisbane.


Avoiding the brunt of the pandemic's population impacts

Like the Ipswich and Logan-Beaudesert regions, and neighbouring Moreton Bay regions, The Sunshine Coast differs to the Gold Coast in that a much smaller proportion of its population growth comes from overseas migration. This means it is less impacted by the compounding demographic effects of closed borders caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the bottom-up

How we forecast the distribution of population across the Sunshine Coast SA4 Region

At the local level, the number and type of dwellings available determine where people of different age groups and household formations live within a region.

This is why we conduct detailed research using a range of sources to understand land use policy and both current and planned residential development activity to inform where we allocate population in our micro-geography forecasts.


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Deciding where and when housing will be built (every developer can't be right)

Perhaps the most important thing about our top-down forecast model is that by firstly forecasting the total population, we quantify the demand for housing in that region, and in doing so, provide a constraint for the growth.

Our bottom-up research aims to distribute this ‘target’ population across the hundreds of small areas that make up a region. To do this, we conduct in-depth research to identify the timing, location and sequence of significant sources of new housing.  Our forecasters then make decisions to match the forecast population with the forecast supply of dwellings. In most cases, not all planned development is used. This next section shares our thinking behind these decisions.

This information is available either as evidence of our forecast assumptions or as a stand-alone forecast of residential development, available as a spatial layer or spreadsheet data file. Download a sample here or contact our team for more information.

urban.com.au Nearmap Cordell Queensland treasury OpenLot.com.au Brisbane development Development-ready Callpoint spatial sunshine-coast Noosa Council Realestate.com.au

A shortage of identified potential housing supply in the forecast period

When we were forecasting on the other side of Brisbane, the Logan-Beaudesert and Ipswich regions were characterised by an abundance of identified potential sites for future residential development.

On the Sunshine Coast, when we compared our forecasts for the region (the share of Queensland's growth that will go to the Sunshine Coast) with our assessment of future housing supply in the area, we still had to find more dwellings to accommodate the population later into the forecast period (even considering the 20,000 dwellings provided by Stockland's Aura development in the Caloundra West SA2).


Development hotspots

As you can see in the map above, the lion's share (64%) of all forecast development will occur in just three SA2s within the Sunshine Coast region; Caloundra West, Landsborough and Maroochydore-Kuluin.

Caloundra West

Accounting for one-third of all development on the Sunshine Coast in the forecast period, the Caloundra West SA2 encompasses the State Government's Caloundra South Priority Development area and is home to Stockland's massive Aura development - the largest Masterplanned community in Australia - which we forecast will complete all 20,000 planned dwellings well within the forecast period, contributing to our dwellings supply into the early 2030s.


The master-planned community in Palmview is expected to add 7,000 dwellings over the forecast period. The Harmony Estate developed by Avid has been underway since 2017.

Landsborough's awkward SA2 geography (as at 2016 ABS boundaries) contributes to its growth in that it stretches from the Landsborough township right across the Bruce Highway to Sippy Downs. On the Landsborough side, it will encompass the more speculative Beerwah East Future Investigation Area (see our 'Keep in mind' note above). At the Sippy Downs end of the SA2, it will pick up some of the growth from that neighbouring suburb which is home to a university campus and therefore serves a very different housing market to the Landsborough end. 


Maroochydore has the highest capacity for infill and medium-density residential development and we have brought on much of this potential development within the forecast period to accommodate the population growth forecast for the region. 

Other locations

The remainder of the development we're forecasting is spread across a number of locations. We have used some of Caloundra's identified capacity for in-fill (densification). Locations such as Peregian Springs were largely completed by the 2016 Census and don't offer much additional capacity. The holiday areas around Noosaville, Noosa Heads and Sunshine Beach offer limited capacity. We've forecast dwellings will be built in the forecast period at the Yaroomba beach site despite recent challenges for the developer, as well as some apartments in Birtinya near the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. 

Your questions answered

Do you have a question about our forecasts, our assumptions or about the Sunshine Coast SA4 Region? You can submit a question to our team by emailing locationdecisions@id.com.au

Request a copy of our forecast data for the Sunshine Coast SA4 Region.