The Government has launched a new scheme that will offer 100,000 first-time buyers under the age of 40 a minimum 20% discount on a new-build home.

Applicants will be able to register their interest in the Starter Home initiative from the New Year – although the homes have yet to be built.

A change to the planning system will be aimed at exempting under-used or unviable brownfield land from the usual planning costs and levies, in return for a below-market sales place on the homes built on the site.

Section 106 agreements and other tariffs currently add an average of £15,000 per home to developers’ costs.

Developers and councils are being asked to respond to proposals, which went out to consultation yesterday, to ensure the changes will unlock sites across the country.

A design panel, including architects Sir Terry Farrell and Sir Quinlan Terry, will be established to ensure the homes are not just cheap, but look good.

Some 30 developers have pledged their support for the scheme, including Barratt, Persimmon and Redrow, but also some smaller builders.

A number of local authorities have expressed their support.