More than 20 bills were outlined during the official opening of Parliament as the coalition government put budget deficit reduction and economic growth at the heart of its agenda.
A Decentralism and Localism Bill will give councils more powers over housing and planning decisions and begin a review of local government finance.
It means the end for Labour’s Infrastructure Planning Commission which was designed to speed major schemes like nuclear power plants through the planning process.
The Academies Bill will also give more schools the freedom to become academies, allowing them to opt out of local authority control.
An Energy and Green Economy Bill will will promote low carbon energy sources and seek to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses.
A draft bill was also proposed allowing the construction of a new high-speed rail network.
One contractor told the Enquirer: “We are worried that giving more power to local planners will slow down the process even further when we need to get on with schemes to promote the recovery.
“The high speed rail network is years away and the green targets sound like something that was put out on an almost daily basis by the last government.
“The academies bill is interesting. If that takes off it could create a new market with a different set of clients looking to invest in schools.”
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “After years of failure, we welcome a fresh approach and are committed to working with the new government to make localism work.
“Offering incentives for new development and encouraging developers to involve locals will lead to better development, but we need to ensure that democracy is followed and that vital decisions don’t get lost amid the kind of infighting and political bickering we often see at local level.
“As we know, the silent majority are often happy with things and it’s only those with the time on their hands to fill council meeting rooms who are heard.
“Bringing in a democratically accountable system for major infrastructure will be key to delivering large projects and it is absolutely essential that there are clear national guidelines for all areas of planning.
“We also need to be realistic about how much power we can devolve to councils. Many aspects of planning and regeneration are highly complex and will require resources which many councils will struggle with.
“Many planners are losing their jobs to help keep police and nurses in post, and there is a large amount of concern over how local authorities will be able to manage all these extra responsibilities with less staff.”