The first centre for sustainable community skills is set to be in Leeds, deputy prime minister John Prescott revealed this week.

He said the initiative was vital to create communities that had a variety of jobs and opportunities.

Three development agencies in the north of England had planned to establish their own individual skills centres but are now pooling resources to create an establishment that will specialise in sustainable community skills.

The agencies that are involved are One North East, Yorkshire Forward and the North West Development Agency.

Prescott said: “We were prepared to hand out £1.5m for centres to each one, but I said why don’t we pull it all together and have one in one place. They now have £5m to develop the centre.”

Terry Hodgkinson, chairman of Yorkshire Forward, said the establishment, which is to be called the Northern Centre of Excellence, would focus on professional skills in the built environment but would also address broader community and voluntary sector skills in regeneration.

He said: “We thought it was a brilliant idea to bring all the skills centres together, and especially to put it here in Leeds, which is almost a pathway to the north.”

The agencies have put forward a proposal to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister