The sites include land owned by the Ministry of Defence and vacant public sector sites next to railway stations in London.

The news was revealed as Chancellor Gordon Brown and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced a new pamphlet, Extending Home Ownership, which sets out the government’s vision for more affordable homes.

As reported by edie news in April (see related story), the government has already purchased nearly 100 surplus NHS sites on which to build new homes, and transferred them to English Partnership ownership. The 700 further sites are listed on EP’s Register of Surplus Public Sector Land.

In addition, Mr Prescott also announced three further public sector sites for the Design for Manufacture competition, which challenges house builders to design high quality homes to a construction budget of £60,000.

The three sites – in Newport Pagnell, Basingstoke, and Maidstone – will provide nearly 400 new homes, many for first time buyers.

The announcements were made as the two senior cabinet members visited the restored Isokon building in north London, where the occupants have purchased their homes with the help of a shared ownership scheme.

“We want to help more people like this to own their own home, allowing them to enjoy financial security and stability,” Mr Prescott said.

“But, to do this we need to increase housing supply and to provide more affordable housing. We need to build more for our money. I have thrown down a challenge to builders; to be more innovative and imaginative whilst driving down construction costs.”

He added that there had been a “staggering” response to the competition from the private sector, saying, “we must all work together to create sustainable communities.”

The government is aiming for a 50% increase in new social home building.

By David Hopkins

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