Councils could offer thousands of affordable housing deals to help key workers and first time buyers buy homes under a ‘groundbreaking scheme’ said Housing Minister Yvette Cooper yesterday.

The Local Housing Company scheme would allow councils to offer their own deals for key workers and first time buyers through new homes built on their land.

Councils currently sell off surplus land to the private sector but do not always have influence over how it is developed, or the type and quality of housing provided.

Councils to team up with private sector

Under proposals to be piloted councils would provide their surplus public sector land to the local housing company and agree the development plan, including being able to directly offer low cost housing deals to meet local needs.

In return for taking the land cost out of the equation, private sector partners such as housing builders, including the Registered Social Landlord sector, would provide equivalent investment and the construction expertise needed to build the homes.

Thousands of new homes planned

Cooper said each local housing company could have the potential to deliver up to 1,000 new homes.

Local authorities could also benefit from the increasing value of land on the site.

The proposals are a part of the Government's Housing Green Paper to provide three million more homes by 2020.

Fourteen councils that have expressed interest in the scheme including: Leeds; Sheffield; Nottingham; Newcastle; Wakefield; Sunderland; Dacorum; Harlow; Peterborough; Bristol; Plymouth; Wolverhampton; Manchester; and Barking & Dagenham.

‘We urgently need to build more homes for first time buyers and families.

'That's why we are investing £10.2bn to increase affordable and social housing. But Government cannot deliver this alone.

'This is a new way to help councils to do their bit to support new homes for key workers and families in their areas,’ said Cooper.