New planning regulations were laid before Parliament today which will allow people to carry out loft conversions and extensions without having to obtain permission from their local council.
The Government said the move would mean that from October the majority of homeowners would no longer need to get planning permission to extend their homes, leading to around 80,000, or one quarter, of all planning applications being removed from the system.
Housing and planning minister Caroline Flint said: "I am scrapping the red tape so it is much easier to convert the loft into that extra bedroom and build on an extension.
"The new rules will cut out planning permission for about 80,000 households a year."
But the Government stressed that the new rules would strike a balance between freeing up homeowners to make improvements and limiting the size of an extension so that neighbours are protected.
Large and more intrusive home improvements, such as extensions going back more than three metres from the original property or loft conversions of more than 50 cubic metres, will still require planning permission.
A new interactive guide is being produced to help people understand the planning requirements faced on future home improvements.
The revised General Permitted Development Order will also increase protection for World Heritage Sites and promote the use of permeable surfaces for front gardens to help reduce surface water run-off and prevent flooding.
From October, driveways or parking areas of more than five square metres will only be exempt from planning permission if they are constructed from materials that allow water to soak through to the ground.