Housebuilding targets set by central government are be scrapped to protect the green belt around towns in England.
There had been plans to build on green belt land in 30 towns, as councils tried to meet regional targets.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said councils would now be given the freedom to make their own decisions, not be "bossed around" by central government.
He has told councils they can ignore the targets in making decisions before the legislation is formally introduced.
He said: "The previous government gave a green light for the destruction of the Green Belt across the country and we are determined to stop it.
"We've promised to use legislation to scrap top-down building targets that are eating up the Green Belt, but I'm not going to make communities wait any longer to start making decisions for themselves.
"That's why I have written to all councils to let them know from today they can make planning decisions in the knowledge Regional Strategies will soon be history.
"It will no longer be possible to concrete over large swathes of the country without any regard to what local people want."
In 2007, the Labour government announced a target of building an extra three million homes in England by 2020 to help deal with the growing demand for houses.
It created regional strategies for each of England's nine regions, outlining targets for a 15-20 year period.
Mr Pickles has told councils they now have the freedom to regard the commitment to end regional plans and housing targets as a material planning consideration in any decisions they are currently making.