At last! Tory house building starts with 13,000 new homes: Cameron announce first major projects in 30 years at four sites. Ministers are to commission a series of giant housebuilding projects for the first time in 30 years, announces today.

They will kick-start the building of thousands of homes in a return to 1980s-style projects like the Docklands development, which was commissioned by Margaret Thatcher and Michael Heseltine.

Initially, more than 13,000 homes will be ‘fast tracked’ on four sites on publicly owned land.

In addition, the Prime Minister has committed £1.2billion to help developers detoxify brownfield land so it can be turned into sites for housebuilding.

This will allow 60,000 more homes to be built over the next five years. Of those, half will be affordable ‘starter homes’ for first-time buyers.

The move to the Government directly commissioning new homes is a significant step in efforts to increase the number of houses for sale.

Critics complain that the eight big housebuilding firms, which are responsible for around half of all new homes, sit on land for too long and are slow to build. Traditionally, government would sell public land to building firms and allow them to build at their own pace.

But today’s announcement will see land cut up into small parcels and then sold with planning permission to small developers. It is hoped this will mean building moving ahead more quickly than it otherwise would.

“This Government was elected to deliver security and opportunity, whatever stage of life you’re at.”  PM David Cameron

In his New Year message, Mr Cameron said it was a ‘moral outrage’ that young people are priced out of the housing market. He has made housing one of his four social reform priorities for the next four years and warned that he will ‘intervene directly’ in the market if building is not going ahead.

Last night, Mr Cameron said: ‘This Government was elected to deliver security and opportunity, whatever stage of life you’re at. Nothing is more important to achieving that than ensuring hardworking people can buy affordable homes.

‘Today’s package signals a huge shift in government policy. Nothing like this has been done on this scale in three decades – government rolling its sleeves up and directly getting homes built.

‘Backed up with a further £1.2billion to get homes built on brownfield sites, it shows we will do everything we can to get Britain building and let more people have the security that comes with a home of their own.’

In the early 1980s, Mr Heseltine, who was Mrs Thatcher’s environment secretary, started the London Docklands Development Corporation to try to revitalise London’s old port. With huge amounts of public and private money, the area was transformed.

The first wave of new homes will be on four sites outside London this year. They are: the Connaught Barracks site in Dover; the new town of Northstowe in Cambridgeshire, which is being built on the Oakington Barracks site; Lower Graylingwell, a former hospital site in Chichester, West Sussex; Daedalus Waterfront in Gosport, Hampshire.

The new approach will also be used on the Old Oak Common site in north-west London, where up to 24,000 homes could soon be built near the planned interchange for HS2 and Crossrail.

Officials said the £1.2billion fund will lead to the creation of at least 30,000 starter homes for new buyers under 40, and up to 30,000 homes for general sale. Ministers are aiming for a total of 200,000 starter homes to be built in Britain by 2020.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: ‘Today’s radical new approach will mean the Government will directly commission small and up-and-coming companies to build thousands of homes on sites across the country.’

Brian Berry, of the Federation of Master Builders, said: ‘When it comes to building new homes, the availability of small sites is the single biggest barrier to small and medium-sized house-builders increasing their output.’