More than 130 contractors have applied to build homes under the Homes and Communities Agency’s public land initiative

The programme, announced in June this year, was set up to see whether there was any appetite among contractors to take a share in housing developments on public land, given the low number of homes being built by housebuilders.

Initially the scheme was for 500 homes, but with the possibility of expanding the programme.

Bob Kerslake, the chief executive of the HCA, said he was “delighted” with the “strong response” received from contractors. He added that the programme had succeeded in getting contractors to take a new attitude to design.

He said: “Some are collaborating with architects, some are working on their own and some are using our panel of preferred designers. They can see the opportunity.”

The HCA had asked interested contractors to fill out a prequalification questionnaire, with the deadline of last week. Contractors Wates, Bouygues and Skanska are among those that have expressed an interest in the proposal.

The initiative is just one of a number of measures from the HCA designed to lessen its reliance on traditional housebuilders to build the homes desired by the government. It has also signed up investment fund Aviva to put money into homes built for private letting.