The government is poised to amend the proposed planning bill to help drive through its regeneration plans for the Thames Gateway, Europe's largest brownfield site
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister intends to make two amendments to the planning bill. This will override earlier legislation that the ODPM believes restricts co-operation between the private sector, local authorities and the Urban Development Corporations overseeing the regeneration.

First, the amended bill will state that UDC boards can comprise up to 17 people, rather than a maximum of 13. The government believes it needs the extra places so that local borough councils and the private sector can be given sufficient representation at the UDC.

The second amendment will allow UDCs to delegate planning powers to local authorities. At present, the UDCs hold planning powers over and above those of councils, which has led to tension between the two in previous regeneration schemes.

It is believed that allowing councils to retain some planning powers would mean that the UDC and councils could jointly co-ordinate the Thames Gateway development, which is hoped to eventually provide 200,000 homes.

A spokesperson for the ODPM did not confirm the news, but said: "Any UDCs would work with planners rather than against them."

The amendments to the planning bill come as concerns mount that the bill will not get through parliament by November. If it is not granted royal assent by that date, it would have to go through the parliamentary process again from the beginning.

This has led to speculation that a large chunk of the bill might be dropped so that fewer amendments and, therefore delays, occur.