Planning reforms that were designed to boost homebuilding are set to watered down by the Government, reports have suggested.

The Times says proposed planning reforms to stop homeowners being able to object to planning applications through a zonal system, along with mandatory housebuilding targets for councils, would now be "scrapped" after a backlash from southern MPs and Tory voters.

Locally, housebuilding has become one of the biggest issues with the publications of draft local plans across south west Hertfordshire revealing huge swathes of land are at severe risk of development.

Councils in Watford, Three Rivers, and Hertsmere have been tasked to find room for more than 30,000 homes collectively up until 2038 - with some local politicians claiming they are unable to just ignore the Government housing targets.

Watford Observer: Residents protesting housing plans on green belt land in Carpenders Park in August. Credit: Ian BushnellResidents protesting housing plans on green belt land in Carpenders Park in August. Credit: Ian Bushnell

But planning reforms that were designed to boost homebuilding are now set to watered down by the Government, reports have suggested.

With a target of building 300,000 new homes a year in England, ministers had said they wanted to overhaul the planning system, arguing reforms would boost the building of high-quality, sustainable homes, by streamlining the process and cutting red tape.

The Planning Bill, first mooted in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year, was designed to create a simpler, faster and more modern planning system – to replace the current one dating back to the post-Second World War era of 1947.

But the Times newspaper has reported Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick would present a pared-back policy, with Tory MPs blaming the original plans for the Conservatives’ defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election in June to the Liberal Democrats.

Leaflets from the Lib Dems at the time attacked the policy and included quotes from prominent Tories such as former prime minister Theresa May and former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith criticising the reforms.

Detractors had been vocal in warning that the plans would undermine local democracy by removing the public’s right to be heard in person.

Related: Hertsmere development sites revealed ahead of draft local plan

Related: Hertfordshire politicians write to Government with housing target concerns

Related: Hundreds join protest opposing development in Carpenders Park

Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of The Countryside Charity, said that if the reports were correct "some of the most damaging proposals of what was a top-down developers’ charter have been rightly binned" and dubbed the move a "victory for common sense".

He added: "The Government must not shy away from overhauling a tired planning system to make it fit for the multiple challenges of the 21st century.

"Local communities need a stronger right to be heard in local decisions; brownfield sites must automatically be developed first to help protect local green spaces and our green belts in the fight against climate change, and young people and key workers desperately need more funding for rural affordable homes."

If the housebuilding targets are to be eased, it is unclear whether this will favour brownfield authorities like Watford, with green belt authorities like Three Rivers and Hertsmere much more likely to benefit from any changes to the current policy.

Draft local plans released by the latter two councils have revealed vast and supposedly protected green belt land is at risk of being built on.

Responding to the reports in the Times, a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) spokesman said on Friday: "We will not comment on speculation. Our response to the consultation will be released in due course."

The MCHLG previously told the Observer that protecting the green belt is a "priority" but the Government has been accused of pushing housing targets based on 2014 data from the Office for National Statistics, rather than basing targets on more recent data.

Related: Housing target row: Government claims protecting green belt a 'priority'