The next mayor of London will enjoy unprecedented control over the capital’s architecture and planning, using new powers and financial resources.

As Londoners prepare to vote in the mayoral elections next Thursday, it was confirmed that new powers over planning applications of “strategic importance” came into force this month.

With just over a week to go in the campaign, a YouGov opinion poll for the Evening Standard showed Tory candidate Boris Johnson leading the field ahead of Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone, with Lib Dem Brian Paddick third.

The new planning powers, which were given royal assent at the end of last year and came into force on April 6 — too late for Livingstone’s current term of office —give the mayor the right to approve projects such as Elephant & Castle and White City, which previously he had only had the discretion to refuse.

Schemes that fall under this power will be of certain heights, floor areas or number of dwellings, including housing schemes of more than 150 houses or flats.

The next mayor will also benefit from a strengthened Design for London, whose budget has risen from £2.7 million to £3 million.

Design for London director Peter Bishop pledged to spend the extra resources on commissioning new projects rather than taking on extra staff. “We see it as a vote of confidence by the London Development Agency,” he said.