Villages in England will be able to build new homes without getting planning consent from their local authority under new Government plans.
Local housing trusts would be created under the Right to Build initiative, which would see villages hold a referendum before deciding whether a development should go ahead.
However a large majority would be needed for the plans to go forward.
It is part of Government plans to delegate more decisions to local areas.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said the plans would probably see developments of fewer than 20 homes.
Mr Shapps said: “Loads of people in village communities are saying, ‘Our school’s closing, our post offices are under threat, we’re losing our community facilities.’
“Our problem is that the young people grow up and find they can’t afford to live in this village anymore.
“We believe that people have a right to stay in their community and if people want to build that community to make it a bit bigger and expand it a bit, within reason, they should have the powers to do that.”