The Government is not planning to abolish the Homes & Communities Agency, housing minister Grant Shapps told the Chartered Institute of Housing conference, but it will be expected to operate "in a genuinely local way" at the "invitation of local people who want to improve their communities".
He said the role of the Tenants Services Authority is being reviewed but the Government intends to keep the HCA as a smaller and more strategic body with functions delivered under local leadership.
"It will be much leaner," he warned.
"To use the jargon I see it as an enabling and investment body. Or in plain English, the people who help to get things done."
He said rather than Whitehall telling communities how many homes they need, communities will drive that investment through responding to incentives and will feel the benefit of new homes being build in their area.
News is still awaited of the Government's plans to deal with a £610m "black hole" in the HCA's finances.