If the challenge is successful, the public property will be sold off to the highest bidder and the money will go towards paying down the national deficit.
To help the land rush, a new web site listing all government land and buildings will go online.
Covering public property of all types and sizes, from motorway lay-bys to empty airfields, the search engine will open the government?s portfolio by town and postcode, with maps detailing the holding.
The new plan applies to government properties and every one can go under the microscope to make sure Whitehall is extracting maximum use, says Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Until today, people only had the right to challenge local authorities where land or property is empty or under-used.
Under the Right to Contest scheme, this power is widened to central government land and property, both vacant and occupied.
Alexander said: 'The government is the custodian of the taxpayers' assets. We certainly should not act as some kind of compulsive hoarder of land and property that could be better used for things like housing and local economic growth.?
?That is why from today we are accepting applications from the public contesting the use of public land and property. I would encourage people to submit an application if they know of any government sites which could be put to better economic use. We will sell them back to the community and local businesses at a fair price.?
Since 2010, enough surplus public land with space for 62,000 homes has been released. The Right to Contest scheme is expected to boost the supply of land available for house building and businesses.
Independent estimates suggest the public sector holds up to 40% of development land and around 27% of brown-field land suitable for housing.
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