Ken Livingstone is close to beefing up his already substantial powers over London planning in a move that critics say will put too much power in the hands of one man and lead to potential conflicts of interest. Financial Times

Council leaders and heritage groups are making a last-ditch attempt to change the details of the new Greater London Authority Act, which will allow the mayor to crush planning decisions by local authorities.

Final consultation is taking place over the Mayor of London Order and critics have not abandoned hopes of securing curbs on his power before it becomes law in early April.

The mayor can already intervene to overturn approvals by any of the London boroughs on projects of a certain size. But under his new powers he will be able to reverse both approvals and rejections on a wider number of schemes.

For example, he will now be able to intervene on projects with more than 150 homes compared with a previous threshold of 500.

Meanwhile, the government will have less influence over the process because it will be able to call in projects only if they are of “national” importance rather than “strategic” as at present.

Eric Pickles, shadow local government minister, said the changes were a 'land grab' by the mayor, which was in 'no one’s interests'.