Government plans have been announced to allow planning permission to be granted automatically on many English brownfield sites, as part of an initiative to boost house building.
Disused land could also be seized by the government to be used for housing, and major housing projects could be fast-tracked. In addition, red tape surrounding house extensions in London could be relaxed, removing the need for planning permission for extensions which are similar to neighbours' homes.
There would also be penalties for councils which fail to deal with planning applications in a reasonable amount of time.
Brownfield sites are areas where buildings have been built in the past, but are now derelict or demolished, leaving the land vacant.
The reforms were important because the UK had been "incapable of building enough homes", Chancellor George Osborne said.
The package of changes, named 'Fixing the Foundations' by the Treasury, is being treated as the second half of the budget.
The government's manifesto promised to "ensure that 90% of suitable brownfield sites have planning permission for housing by 2020".
Before the announcement of the new plans, George Osborne had said that "Britain has been incapable of building enough homes.
"The reforms we made to the planning system in the last Parliament have started to improve the situation: planning permissions and housing starts are at a seven-year high.
"But we need to go further and I am not prepared to stand by when people who want to get on the housing ladder can't do so."