The government has brought forward its timetable for deciding the location of the 10 eco-towns proposed by Gordon Brown, according to an inside source.

The decision had originally been due in April, but is now set for February. The source said: “Ministers are keen to move as fast as possible to demonstrate that this is a priority.”

By last week, the government had received 57 bids for eco-towns from developers and councils. These are being sifted using a cross-departmental process led by the communities department, in which agencies are being asked to assess the quality of bids.

A government spokesperson confirmed that there would be no public shortlisting process before the winners were announced.