Xtranormal urban planning

The above video has been adapted from a satirical article written by Ross Elliott, who runs the blog The Pulse.

Readers seeking further information on these matters are encouraged to read the below articles:

Jumping the urban growth boundary

Block sizes shrinking. Blame government policy

Rethinking urban planning

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)


  1. Good work, Leith. Ross Elliott is doing good work too.

    First in a series?

    Suggestion: your frustrated property owner could well ask just how many people were involved in the “community consultation” process, and whether they were truly representative of society.

    I think governments should be obliged to conduct “pro-active consultation” processes rather than passive ones, where only those with strong feelings bother to participate. I think participation in these processes should be required of a given number of people truly representative of society, in a process like Jury service.

    We might wonder however people in countries in 20th century history had totalitarianism sneaked up on them? Private property rights are simply one of the pillars of western civilisation. Erosion of them has a role in the crisis we are now facing.

    Every crisis gets met by a further expansion of State power, notice; never a wind-back of the distortions that caused the problems in the first place.

    • Well if a friend who’s a planner’s experience is any guide, not to mention my own experience in dealing with student complaints, ‘community consultation’ is anything but representative. Busybodies, and serial complainants are somewhat over-represented.

      Which of course is no surprise as most of us have neither the interest nor time to find out if a development is happening, let alone attend some sort of meeting about it.

      Still, I don’t think I want a system where developers under the guise of property rights, can run completely roughshod over everyone else, there needs to be a mechanism to allow for reasonable objections to be put forth. We’d have lost the Rocks and the QVB in Sydney if developers always got their way.

      • What is more truly “democratic”? The sham “community consultation” process, or “developers” simply building what there is a demand for, where there is a demand for it?

        The free market is actually the ultimate “democratic” mechanism, in spite of how much issues like this one are “spun” to the contrary.

        • ‘community consultation’ is anything but representative. Busybodies, and serial complainants are somewhat over-represented.
          Well, nothing but apathy and sheer laziness is stopping the non-busybodies and non-serial complainers from participating!!
          The free market is actually the ultimate “democratic” mechanism, in spite of how much issues like this one are “spun” to the contrary.
          So you propose that we replace grassroots democracy with “free market”? just because the libertarian minded can’t be bothered participating in a democratic process??

          • people would be hard pressed for time to go out and argue for the general interest on every issue, on the other hand its a lot easier for people to go to council and get things approved for their own self interest..

          • TSpencer, I was responding to this question from PB.
            What is more truly “democratic”?
            I would take the “sham” community consultation process as being more democratic.
            The process may not deliver the market outcome that you want, but it is democratic. On the other hand, there is nothing to stop the developers from using their market/money power from skewing demand/supply to their advantage.
            I hate the NIMBYs as much as the next guy, but I am not about to hand over total control to the developers.

  2. Very amusing article and video. I just wonder whether anyone has heard about state – monopoly capitalism. Isn’t it obvious how the governments around the world are fusing with the big capital, which finances their elections? The corruption in some states (in less developed countries) is obvious, when in others (developed countries) it is hidden and transformed by the law makers in “lawful actions”, which are in the benefit only of a bunch of people (the top 1% usually) not the whole nation. This is pure state-monopoly capitalism.

  3. darklydrawlMEMBER


    Excellent stuff. Humour (when done well) is an excellent vehicle for getting a serious message accross.

    You have done a great job on this. Keep fighting the good fight.

  4. so let me get this straight… you bought an unproductive piece of land and are now upset that it’s unproductive? naw diddums.

    yeah those anti capitalist planners, making sure there isn’t an open cut mine next to a preschool. how dare they!!

    While I understand the frustration in dealing with bureaucracies, a bit of balance wouldn’t go astray.

    • Completely missed the point hey danna? You know, the situation that has developed where blanket restrictions on land-use are forcing up land/house prices and forcing people to move to far flung exurban satelite cities and towns, increasing sprawl and commuting times in the process.

      • Completely missed the point or able to see a problem without ditching the whole system? I fully accept that OVER-regulation can lead to increased land prices which then leads to an affordability problem. The solution is not to scrap ALL regulation.

        It’s a bad straw man argument that has been constructed above Leith, and just because I agree with you that over regulation has increased land costs, it does not follow that all regulation is bad.

        One fictional guy that Ross made up can’t do what he wants on his land… SCRAP ALL REGULATION!!!

          • ok… fair point. let me take back what i said (if you will) and let me put it this way…

            Is protecting our water ways good or bad regulation? Is protecting our native wildlife good or bad regulation? Why are these depicted here as BAD regulation?

            This is why in my first post i noted that bureaucracies are frustrating… but balance must be strived for. A lot of times we’re not talking about a wrong way and a right way, we’re talking about the lesser of two evils. I would much rather have regulation that restricted some genuinely good ideas than a lack of restriction that allowed any old cowboy to do whatever he likes.

          • darklydrawlMEMBER


            I dount anyone here would argue that it should be open slather. But look at it this way. Who decides and what makes the land on one side of the road (or edge of the UGB) more precious (ie protecting the waterways / wildlife) than the other side. And who profits from that decision. And does it actually make any sense at all?

            I have to agree with Leith here. You go to some of these outer suburbs (in Melbourne at least) and you can see these huge McMansion typs all packed into a sheep paddock and they all stop in a line – the UGB. Paddock one side and packed in housing the other. It is crazy. The land 20 metres away is just the same and to be frank, nothing special in many cases.

            I am not saying it should be open slather. These decisions should be planned with care and proper consideration but they aren’t and this isn’t happening. Some official folks have drawn a line on a map and said – that’s it. That is the edge. That is about all there is to the UGB.

            It is mostly about keeping prices up so the revenue keeps flowing to the councils, governments and other.

          • Yes, and while those new McMansions just inside the urban fringe are crammed on one tenth of an acre each, back in the older suburbs close to the CBD where the planners WANT “increased density” because it will theoretically enable workers to commute shorter distances, this “increased density” AIN’T HAPPENING.

            NIMBYism is one reason, but inflated land prices is the elephant in the room. Even if subdividing big old sections was easy to do, the PRICE OF LANF nearer the CBD is prohibitive to most. Graph some land price curves for yourself and see what I mean – see where they intersect the demand curve AFTER price inflation. Higher price, SMALLER quantity.

    • Yeah danna…sorry,the”scrap all regulations”,episode,had to be scrapped..When a rogue GFC landed in Youngsville ,and all the funding withdrew,payed itself well,found a new and reinvested,where,the second time around
      and an, old man got his holiday around the world ..first class
      ..the ,council got a free car-wash n car-park and green-area..then moved-in ,with the well-off,and not in overlooking the interviewer later,went on to become Mayor….With and although it did have an open-cut mine feel with a preschool present,it…just came across..after drawing so much,beneath the community at the time,as all,up-side down…for now.

      Dig it ..UE
      Cheers JR

  5. Hugh PavletichMEMBER

    I have been banging on for a very long time about the 3 key issues –

    (1) Open Land Supply on the fringes, with flexible internal zoning. There is simply no way that Governments should have any control of land supply. Artificial scarcity values cannot be justified under any circumstances.

    (2) Finance infrastructure appropriately, along the lines of the US Municipal Utility District bond financing model.

    (3) Get some elementary performance thinking / disciplines inculcated in to the Local Government sector – something incidentally the Federal Liberals support, if their Housing Policy at the last election is any guide.

    Leith (with Ross Elliott’s scripting) illustrates just what a circus the current system is. It simply should not be tolerated.

    Hugh Pavletich
    Co author – Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey
    New Zealand

  6. One thing the anti-sprawl advocates are missing, is WHOSE “useful idiots” they are. They probably claim to “CARE” about wealth being transferred and concentrated in the hands of the already wealthy and powerful.

    I pose two questions: 1) why does George Soros lavishly bankroll environmental organisations?

    2) What does urban growth containment and “monocentric” transport planning do to the “rents” captured by CBD property owners?

    If you don’t understand, then it is understandable to me that you can adopt such contradictory positions on the environment, and “social justice”. If you DO understand, I ask how you can live with yourself?