Only four Tory MPs have signed up to a motion critical of moves to increase greenfield housebuilding, providing further evidence of David Cameron's efforts to shift his party's stance on planning.

The early day motion, tabled by backbench Labour MPs, backs the "brownfield first" policy enshrined in planning rules.

It criticises moves to make councils provide housing in response to market pressures. Conservative backbenchers have come under pressure from whips, keen to distance the party from its links with opposition to greenfield development, not to sign up to the Commons motion.

Henry Oliver, the Campaign to Protect Rural England's head of planning, said: ‘This gives us an early wind of the change of view in the Conservative party.'