English Partnerships and the Academy for Sustainable Communities have launched a consultation on a new national strategy to improve ‘brownfield skills’ and support Government plans to build three million new homes by 2020.

The consultation on the Brownfield Skills Strategy will form a central theme of English Partnerships’ annual Brownfield Conference.

The strategy calls for cross sector support and action to address a significant projected shortfall of housing and regeneration practitioners with the necessary skills to redevelop brownfield sites, on which at least 60% of the new homes will be built.

Research included in the draft strategy says that by 2012 there could be a shortfall of around 680,000 workers, including 300,000 engineers and developers and 140,000 surveyors, needed to meet government targets.

It suggests that great funding for regeneration studies at universities and other ‘innovative’ routes into the sector must be encouraged as well as increasing the knowledge and skills of the existing workforce through shared learning.

Professor Paul Syms, English Partnerships’ national brownfield advisor, said: ‘Ensuring that there are enough professionals at all stages of the regeneration process, and that they have the necessary skills, is absolutely fundamental to the re-use of brownfield land for sustainable housing growth and other development.

‘These numbers are significant, and if we are to maintain our current success in reusing brownfield sites, then addressing the brownfield skills gap is of paramount importance. It is a cornerstone of our recommendations to Government for a first-ever National Brownfield Strategy.’

The consultation follows English Partnerships’ submission of policy recommendations to Government.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Iain Wright will announce the Government’s response to English Partnerships’ Brownfield Strategy recommendations later during the conference.