So that pretty well tells you where Hatherley is coming from, both politically and architecturally. He's a fervent critic of the past couple of decades of "regeneration" of British cities, and something of a defender, if far from an uncritical one, of the aspirations of the Fifties and Sixties - and the structures built then, often poorly and carelessly, but he says with good intentions, and designs that would have held up fine had faith, and investment, been maintained.
Now instead we've got, he says, rightly in my view, mean and pinched, poorly built structures characterised by "vernacular" brickwork (often clearly "decorative") and slatted wood, or even worse plastic and plasticky or metalled panelling in preschooler-friendly colours, thrown up by developers with no consideration to the environments in which they're placed. Topped off, of course, with oddly angled or shaped roofs, which almost invariably leak. (I'm reminded of a Camden new block of flats crammed into a busy road that I visited recently - badly placed glass, odd shapes, and plaster weeping from barely finished walls to show the cheap and shoddy concrete block beneath.) And that's without mentioning the seemingly deliberately, outright, unredeemably ugly hotels....
He sees much of the government activity - often demolition of perfectly sound buildings of little age, people's homes - as a drive to "artificially stimulate (sorry 'renew') the housing market". He quotes the case of New Labour Sheffield, which went from an abundant supply of council housing through the wide deployment of the wrecking ball to a council house waiting list that quadrupled from 2001 and 2007 to 58,706, and now may well have topped 90,000. "Mixed communities" i.e. owner occupiers, were supposed to move into new developments in the holes created - often these didn't materialise, and where they did, those new people are now often trapped in negative equity in poky (failing to meet by a large margin the Parker-Morris standards of council days), poorly built flats, where tenants of speculative landlords aren't trapped in the same.
And then there's the post-boom bailout - not of the banks, but speculative builders, definitely not Hatherley's favourite people. "On the basis of his 'success' in Sheffield, in 2009 Sir Bob Kerslake was appointed chair of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).... This proud demolisher of council housing is now head of the agency that intends to sponsor new social housing to help people through the property crash, although in its first few months its only activities appeared to be a vast £2.8 billion bailout of the country's property developers, something missed by the press in the face of the even larger bailout of the banks."