I won't retrace all the steps (I've thoughtfully assembled them all here) but two great streams are evident.
1 - The RMA was intended from the outset to be Effects-based. This should have meant that small effects = wave it through, effects offset by e.g. paying off those affected = problemo solvato, and in general, a risk-based approach to everything. Small risks = small costs, quick process times, small economic externalities.
But the TLA staff of that time, and indeed ever since, would not adjust to this (admittedly, radical) methodology. They had always run off Plans, Zones, Rules, Regulations and in general, 'things wot could be looked up'. Risk assessment and judgements about Effects, (including the first and most obvious question: 'So What?' ), were and remain completely beyond their training, intellectual capacity, experience, and inclination. So none of the effects-based stuff really ever happened except for nationally significant cases. Where, and by no coincidence, the intellectual horsepower was indeed available.
So, in reaction and by (staff, not elected Councillor) design, what we got saddled with was what we have (and which the Productivity Commish has brilliantly skewered in their latest tome):
- Arbitrary, lengthy, costly and opaque processes
- Thousands-pages long Schemes and Plans which take expensive consultants weeks of paid-for time to interpret for applicants
- Schemes and Plans which rely totally on spatial zoning, massive schedules of haram and halal uses, (most of which are cheerfully ignored by those with high fences and quiet work habits): the old, repealed Town and Country Planning Act schtick, revivified and shambling around like - well, in fact, Being - a baleful zombie attack.
- Schemes and Plans which are frequently internally inconsistent, are subject to constant amendment via scheme changes and case law, and are, maise naturellement, wildly inconsistent across TLA boundaries.
- All of which imposes simply staggering economic deadweight costs on unfortunates such as your good self, who get to wrestle the Hydra and pass on the associated costs into house /plot purchase prices.
2 - As if this was not sufficient, there is a further, more subtle and even more dispersed economic externalilty caused by the TLA's adherence to spatial zones.
Zones and monoculture uses, cause commutes. It's as sad and as simple as that.
So by not being able to live over the shop, bunk down in an employer-supplied donga in the far corner of the yard on a construction site or meatworks, live a bike ride away from the mall, walk to the brewery, and in general do everything that any of us Boomers can remember from their youth, there is Cost upon Cost imposed upon, oddly enough, the least able to accommodate it: the young, poor, indifferently skilled, or really old.
In darkest Invergiggle in the late 50's, within walking distance of our Ythan Street home there was:
- A church across the intersection
- A fibrous plasterer's yard next to that
- A garage-sized small grocery right next door (milk dipped out of the can, flour out of the bin)
- A flour mill
- A butcher
- A fishmonger
- A primary school, a Tech, an intermediate and a High school
- A railway line (unfenced)
- A Municipal Baths
Mixed uses. No apparent zones. And, hey, it worked a treat. Until the Planners and Improvers (UK motto" 'We Finish what the Luftwaffe Started!") got a hold of everything.
For our Own Good, of course.