The central government is moving closer to scrapping the housing-demolition regulation amid public outcry over a number of violent and even deadly confrontations between homeowners and developers. The Legal Affairs Office under the State Council, the nation's cabinet, held a symposium on Wednesday on a draft regulation on the acquisition of homes and redevelopment compensation, which is expected to replace the highly controversial regulation, introduced in July 2001. Quoting the deputy director of the Legal Affairs Office, Hao Fengtao , Xinhua said the draft regulation would usher in a profound shift in housing-demolition policy. But he stopped short of offering a time frame for the draft regulation to be put to the public for wider consultation. However, Hao said the 2001 regulation, which many have criticised for contravening the constitution, would be dropped and the new rules were likely to endorse the principle of 'compensation first before demolition begins'. It would help address many of the public grievances over redevelopment projects in which regional governments often collude with developers to force evictions in the name of public interest. With the booming property market stoking commercial developers' appetite, the guidelines allowing local governments to confiscate homes and claim land often end in collusion with developers. Huang Jianying went grocery shopping at a supermarket in Guangzhou on Wednesday morning and returned to find her home, in which she lived with three other people, flattened. Huang said the developers had announced their intention to redevelop the land for the upgrade of a nearby waterway only three months ago. Negotiations over compensation had not reached an agreement, so she had no reason to think her building would be demolished when she returned home. A neighbour said bulldozers arrived at the site at about 10am and began demolition work. In another incident to that has grabbed national attention, a man on the outskirts of Beijing doused himself with petrol and set himself on fire on Monday as officials were pressing his family to give up their home, newspapers said. Xi Xinzhu suffered burns to 10 per cent of his body and was being treated in hospital, officials told People's Daily. Peking University law professor Wang Xixin , who was invited to the symposium, said any reforms needed to ensure that governments could not illicitly work with developers to undermine residents' interests. 'To avoid this alliance of interests, the key is making a distinction between the public interest and commercial development,' he was quoted by mainland media as saying. But local governments, eager for revenue, stood in the way of such reforms, he said. 'They pay too much attention to urban development and may neglect protecting the property and housing rights of all people.'