The aim is to help local authorities bring forward massive housing developments of more than 15,000 new homes.
Bids have also been invited for the £1bn of investment announced in the 2013 autumn statement to unlock local housing schemes of more than 1,500 homes that have plans in place but need assistance to get the development out of the ground.
The aspiration is that this funding will get work started on up to 250,000 new homes by 2020 and provide a springboard for bidders who also want to build garden cities.
Investment will be provided through the local infrastructure fund, which is already accelerating development of 69,000 homes in areas including Cranbrook in Devon, and Wokingham in Berkshire.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “I’m publishing a new garden cities prospectus, which calls for local areas to submit their plans for garden cities that will provide affordable homes, good schools, and jobs for the next generation, while at the same time preserving the countryside.
“This is a call to arms for visionaries in local areas in need of housing to put forward radical and ambitious proposals to develop their own garden cities.”
The government wants to avoid any electoral backlash against massive garden city developments and is keen for plans to be led at the local level, not imposed from above. Ministers are also hoping to see proposals come forward that reuse brownfield sites of lower environmental value.