In a statement, Number 10 said that the government would "call time" on poor performing planning departments, "putting the worst into ‘special measures’ if they have failed to improve the speed and quality of their work and allowing developers to bypass councils".
A written ministerial statement issued today by communities secretary Eric Pickles said: "We need to ensure that where there are clear failures in performance, that applicants are able to access a better service.
"We propose to legislate to allow applications to be decided by the Planning Inspectorate, if the local authority has a track record of consistently poor performance in the speed or quality of its decisions."
The Number 10 statement also said that more applications will go into a "fast track appeal process". According to the written ministerial statement, the government will consult shortly on options to speed up planning appeals - and for a new "fast track procedure for some small commercial appeals".
It said that the government had instructed the Planning Inspectorate with immediate effect to divert resources to prioritise "all major economic and and housing-related appeals, to ensure applicants receive a response in the quickest possible time".
The Number 10 statement added that "thousands" of big commercial and residential applications are to be directed to a "major infrastructure fast track and where councils are poor developers can opt to have their decision taken by the Planning Inspectorate".
According to Pickles' written ministerial statement, the government intends to "review the thresholds for some categories" in the nationally significant infrastructure projects regime, and also to "bring new categories of commercial and business development into the regime".
The statement said that this would make it possible for such schemes, where they are of sufficient significance, to be "considered and determined at the national level".
The Prime Minister said: "The measures announced today show this government is serious about rolling its sleeves up and doing all it can to kick-start the economy."