In his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Goldsmith, who was last week named as the Tory candidate for London mayor, said he would make "direct democracy a London reality".
"If I am elected mayor, I will ensure that local communities can vote to require the mayor to call in significant developments," Goldsmith said.
He told the conference that "many Londoners are instinctively suspicious of new development". "Too often they have no say, no control, over what is built in their backyard," he added.
"When a new development is proposed for their community, it is often ugly, out-of-proportion, out-of-keeping - and it is simply dumped on them, with no thought as to the effect it will have on their area," Goldsmith said.
"I believe passionately in giving communities a voice and making that voice decisive," he told the conference.
The mayoral candidate said that London's 3,500 housing estates could be rebuilt, providing "more homes, better communities and more beautiful streetscapes".
"We can have attractive street-based developments that people actually want to live in," he said.
Goldsmith also pledged to set up a fund designed specificially to attract big institutional investors and use it to build a "new generation of homes".
Goldsmith's Labour opponent for the mayoralty is Sadiq Khan, who has proposed to introduce a 50 per cent affordable housing target for any new housing development.