How We Started
In April 1998, the then Government asked Sir Richard Rogers to set up the Urban Task Force to investigate the causes of urban decline in England and recommend practical solutions to bring people back into our cities, towns and urban neighbourhoods. It was in the Task Force’s report ‘Towards an Urban Renaissance’ (June 1999) that the creation of regional centres of excellence were first proposed. Termed Regional Resource Centres for Urban Development, they were intended to stimulate and co-ordinate the provision and take up of cross-disciplinary training and provide mentoring and best practice advice.

In the Government’s Urban White Paper of 2000 (Our towns and cities: the future: Delivering an urban renaissance), the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) were asked to establish Regional Centres of Excellence that could identify how best to improve skills and training in the built environment within each region. Three years later, this request was reinforced by the ODPM document, Sustainable Communities: building for the future.

The Government’s National Skills Strategy introduced a network of Sector Skills Councils to work with employers and employees in the areas they represent. Their aim, to ensure that employers have the right skills to support the success of their businesses, and individuals have the skills they need to be both employable and personally fulfilled.

The Lambert Review of 2003, commissioned by Gordon Brown, which explored the impacts of greater interaction between business and higher education, also added to the skills focus by highlighting the need for greater knowledge transfer.

In 2004, the Government commissioned Sir John Egan to look into the skills and training that built environment professionals required to deliver sustainable communities. The report: The Egan review: skills for sustainable communities, gives his findings.

All of these documents set a very broad agenda on skills and urban renaissance and outline the national policy context within which we need to operate, but from the start South East Excellence intends to focus on the skills required to change built environments and unite those who could best teach them.

Acting as a steering group, SEEDA GOSE and the Assembly set out to develop South East Excellence, taking into account all these influential documents. The first step was to conduct thorough research and consultation.