Local authorities have been given permission to plan for as many homes as they see fit in their districts, after the coalition government abolished Labour’s regional spatial strategies

The strategies forced councils to commit to building a certain number of homes, in many cases more than they wanted, and the Conservatives had promised to abolish the plans.

However, the government gave no indication of when it would introduce financial incentives for councils to build homes, which were pledged to prevent the reforms leading to a development gridlock.

Guidance issued by Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, this week said councils should continue to work up planning documents already in progress, but would be free to review the number of homes required each year. The guidance said councils should be able to defend their numbers against legal challenge.

The guidance said: “Local planning authorities will be responsible for establishing the right level of local housing provision and identifying a long-term supply of housing land.” Those that wish to cut the number of homes should “undertake an early review so communities and landowners know where they stand”.