The government is preparing to backtrack on a proposal to force regional assemblies to give up planning powers to quangos. 

According to a source close to the government, it is instead preparing to give each region the choice of whether it wants to give control of planning to the Regional Development Agencies , as originally envisaged. 

Last year a Treasury review concluded that control of the Regional Spatial Strategies – which set housing numbers in each region – should move from assemblies to the RDAs. 

Councillors, particularly in the South-east, reacted angrily to the government plans, describing them as undemocratic. Regional assemblies are made up largely of elected councillors, whereas RDAs are appointed by central government.