Thousands of homes for first-time buyers will be built this year, according to the government.
Thirty areas across England are to receive funding from the £1.2bn “Starter Homes Land Fund” for new developments on brownfield sites.
Buyers must be aged between 23 and 40 and will receive a discount of at least 20% below market value.
However, one housing expert told the BBC that the timescale for the programme was too ambitious.
The Starter Homes Land Fund was first announced by the coalition government in 2014 and aims to help more people buy a home.
The discounts will apply to properties worth up to £250,000 outside London, or £450,000 in the capital.
Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said: “This government is committed to building starter homes to help young first-time buyers get on the housing ladder.
“This first wave of partnerships shows the strong local interest to build thousands of starter homes on hundreds of brownfield sites in the coming years. One in three councils has expressed an interest to work with us so far.”
The first 30 local authorities were chosen on the basis of their ability to build the properties quickly enough. They include Blackpool Council, Bristol City Council, Sheffield City Council and Luton Borough Council. The properties are expected to go on sale in 2018.
But speaking to the BBC, Christine Whitehead, Emeritus Professor in housing economics at the London School of Economics, said the “timescale is much too short, it’s not that easy to build on land that quickly, and we are anyway short on skills”.
John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, said: “These so-called starter homes are a symbol of the Conservative record on housing.
“Ministers launched them in 2014 but will only start to build the first in 2017, promised they’d be affordable for young people when they’ll cost up to £450,000, and pledged to build 200,000 by 2020 but no-one now believes that’s possible.”
Prof Whitehead said that, even with government help, some young people were not in a strong enough financial position to participate in the scheme: “[They] often haven’t got very strong jobs, they’re insecure about their future, they’re paying high prices in the rental market and therefore can’t afford the deposit.”
This is the government’s second announcement this week on measures to tackle the UK’s housing shortage. On Monday, it revealed proposals for England’s first garden villages on 14 sites spread across the country from Cornwall to Cumbria. It said the new developments could provide 48,000 homes.
In addition, it said three new garden towns would be built at Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow & Gilston, in addition to seven already in the pipeline.
Later this month, the government is due to publish its White Paper on housing supply in which it will set out its plans for building new homes.’