MELBOURNE, AAP – A purpose-built quarantine facility will be constructed in Melbourne’s north and will begin taking returned overseas travellers by the end of the year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday confirmed the 1000-bed facility will be constructed on the Commonwealth-owned land in Mickleham in Melbourne’s north, next to an existing quarantine facility for plants and animals.

It will, however, open when the first 500 beds are available.

‘I have asked my officials to prioritise this project and I want to see that all efforts are made to deliver the first stages of the facility by the end of 2021,” Mr Morrison wrote in a letter to Acting Premier James Merlino.

“A facility with a 1000-bed capacity will increase the number of Australians that can return to Australia and provide options to assist in our economic recovery by enabling arrivals of international students, skilled migrants and other economic intakes into the medium term.”

The prime minister thanked Mr Merlino for the state government’s co-operation and partnership in delivering the project.

The state government had committed $15 million to get the project ready for construction.

They had estimated a 500-bed facility would cost $200m.