A meeting of minds in Nowra on Friday thrashed out the challenges facing the Shoalhaven, which is tipped to become the fastest growing region in the state over the next 20 years.
Forecasting the need for an additional 33,000 homes over the next 30 years, the Property Council forum pointed to having the right mix of housing, ensuring population growth was matched with employment opportunities and, of course, there was sufficient infrastructure.
In recent years, we've seen a bit of an infrastructure bonanza at the northern end of the Shoalhaven. The highway upgrade is proceeding at a cracking pace.
In the not-too-distant future, once the Albion Park bypass and the Berry to Bomaderry upgrade are complete, the last set of traffic motorists will encounter before arriving in Nowra will be at Sutherland.
And with Infrastructure Australia approving on Monday the new bridge across the Shoalhaven River, that piece in the infrastructure puzzle is falling into place. Once the bridge is constructed, our connectivity to Sydney will be a major boost for the local economy.
This will make the region an attractive place to do and base business and a desirable place to live. With that, however, will come additional burdens on local services.
Our hospital is already struggling to meet the demands being placed upon it. The latest figures show emergency ward wait times among the worst in the state. A major upgrade is at least five years away but there is no guarantee that once it is built, sufficient staff will follow.
Local roads are also feeling the strain of growth. Council needs to get cracking on the East Nowra Sub Arterial to take the pressure off the highway.
The time get on with planning for the future is right now. Population growth without services and infrastructure is a recipe for disaster.