An unelected Birmingham City Council official could be given unprecedented powers to decide when major planning applications should be rejected.
Clive Dutton, the director of planning and regeneration, would be allowed to sidestep councillors on the planning committee by refusing applications in special circumstances.
The proposal has been devised to help speed up the time the council takes to deal with planning applications.
Birmingham lags behind the Government's recommended 13-week target for reaching decisions about individual applications. Complex major proposals can be on the table for over a year before being decided.
Continued failure to meet the 13-week target will result in the loss of Government grant in the form of a fine for the council's poor performance.
Mr Dutton would only use his new powers when officers' reports recommend that the planning committee reject a major planning application.
By shortcutting the process, effectively issuing a refusal notice before the report reaches the committee, Mr Dutton would be able to cut the length of time taken to deal with applications.
In many cases developers withdraw applications shortly before the committee is due to meet if they expect that planning permission is likely to be refused.
Mr Dutton would only be able to take a decision after consulting the chairman of the planning committee, Coun David Roy.
The proposal has worried senior councillors, who urged further consideration. Sir Albert Bore, leader of the Labour opposition group, said he was uneasy about taking powers away from elected members on the planning committee.
"This is a quasi-judicial process and the delegation of powers to an officer and one member would undermine the process. I don't feel comfortable about this," he said.
Council leader Mike Whitby said Birmingham had to cut the time taken to deal with major planning applications if the council was to improve its rating under the Govern-ment's Comprehensive Performance Assessment.
Almost three-quarters of planning applications are already decided by council officers using delegated powers, he pointed out.