The government has today unveiled a shortlist of 15 locations for building the first new towns since the 1960s.

Eco-town sites stretch from Yorkshire to Cornwall, with developments having to meet zero carbon standards by promoting leading-edge green technologies.

The largest is a plan for up to 15,400 homes on a number of sites in Martson Vale and New Marston, Bedfordshire, while the former RAF airfield at Coltishall, Norfolk is one of the smaller schemes at 5,000 units.

The government said no new homes would be built on green-belt land and more than 30% of the housing would be afforable.

“We have a major shortfall of housing and with so many buyers struggling to find suitable homes, more affordable housing is a huge priority,” said housing minister Caroline Flint.

“To face up to the threat of climate change, we must also cut the carbon emissions from our housing. Eco-towns will help solve both of these challenges.”

The government will now consult the public, local authorities and wider stakeholders on the potential locations.

It wants to build five eco-towns by 2016 and up to 10 by 2020.

More than 40 locations were turned down for being undeliverable or not ambitious enough.