Sheffield City Council has kick-started plans to form a local housing company that could build around 2,500 homes in the city in the next 10-15 years.

It has launched a search to find a preferred partner to help the council meet its target.

The council said it will be searching across the UK and Europe for the best private sector partner to 'step up and take on this significant long-term project, one of the biggest the authority has undertaken in recent years'.

The new properties will include homes for sale and for rent and many will be affordable.

Around 148 acres of land will be developed over 20 sites. The sites are in council ownership and most are ready for development. There are also plans to regenerate neighbourhood centres and Green spaces.

The council will advertise for a preferred bidder in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The procurement process is set to take about 16 months. It is a long term project with the houses being built over the next 10-15 years.

It will undertake a pre-qualification process and invite short-listed candidates to participate in a competitive dialogue process during which aspects of the project will be discussed and solutions developed together.

There will be a briefing for bidders on Friday, February 13.

Under the plans the council would invest land in the company and a private sector partner would invest money to match the value of the land the authority puts in. If necessary, the company would then borrow money to fund house building.

The profits and risks would be shared equally between the council and its partner.

Councillor Bob McCann, Sheffield City Council’s cabinet member for housing, and safer, sustainable communities said: 'This is a crucial next step in what is undoubtedly a milestone project for Sheffield. We want to attract bids from the leading private sector partners as it is essential that we get the plans right and in accordance with what local communities want to see in their area. We’re not just looking for someone to build homes but a partner who can work with us to create places where people want to live.'

Steve Trueman, acting head of finance at the Homes and Communities Agency, responsible for local housing companies, said: 'Sheffield is now one vital step further along the road to this new approach to public-private partnerships, which will increase the supply of new homes and give the council greater control over the quality, affordability and speed of new housing for local residents.'