Housing Minister Yvette Cooper today outlined a package of proposals to accelerate the building of houses for families and first-time buyers.

She said the Government would provide £500m of financial incentives – known as Housing and Planning Delivery Grants - for local councils which identify land suitable for new homes and produce better and clearer plans to speed up the delivery of new homes in their areas.

Cooper also identified more than 200 extra disused brownfield public sector sites across the country which could be used to build new homes. These are additional to the 550 sites announced by the Prime Minister earlier this year. These sites are being assessed to see if they are suitable for housing.

A new partnership has been launched with the aim of building 240,000 new zero carbon homes a year by 2016. It includes more than 150 organisations such as housebuilders, Green groups and local councils.

Today's announcements are part of the Government's commitment to build 3m homes by 2020, and provide additional funding to accelerate the rate of housebuilding across the country.

Ian Fletcher, director for residential policy at the British Property Federation, said local authorities had the most important role to play if government housing targets were to be met and it was ‘not surprising that the minister is providing councils with the carrot of funding’.

He said: ‘New sticks are also available through the planning system, though these remain untried or tested and we would hope these would not be needed as the last thing most developers want is to go through lengthy appeals.

‘Many councils have already accepted the compelling case that with 1.6m on council waiting lists and supply falling short by 60,000 or so households a year, we need more homes. We hope this will stimulate even more to consider increasing the land they identify for housing development.’