The Conservative Party has refused to put a figure on the number of brownfield sites it wants redeveloped, but says it aims to do better than Labour. Shadow environment minister Archie Norman, commenting on the party’s new draft manifesto, said: “We would aim for a higher percentage of brownfield sites than the government but this would be as a result of a decision by local people. Setting targets is a political gesture. We are not in the target-setting business.”

The government has said it wants to see 60% of housing on brownfield sites by 2016.

The Conservatives also intend to demolish some tower blocks and large estates, replacing them with mixed-tenure housing and businesses.

Norman said: “Some large estates create barriers to regeneration and they won’t change unless you change the buildings. We want to give a fighting chance to less well off urban areas and will reallocate part of the regeneration budget. We will not increase spending.

Norman said the party intended to return responsibility for housebuilding to the regions. He said: “There would be an obligation to meet development needs but a decision on whether or not to expand would be a decision for local people.”

The manifesto, entitled Building for Britain, confirmed that regional development agencies would be scrapped, with responsibility for enterprise and development returned to local government.

Other proposed measures include encouraging the use of local materials in housebuilding and charging construction firms for using a road before they dig it up.

Further details of the party’s plans for housing and regeneration will be published in three weeks’ time at the annual conference.