Under the changes, community councils will gain the legal right to be consulted on local planning issues and schemes which the new councils will be preparing for devolved decision making in their area.
In addition, local licensing boards are to be urged in new Government guidance to keep community councils fully informed of local developments.
Mr Stewart commented: 'In reforming local government we want to make councils more accessible and accountable to those they serve. Our proposals to strengthen community councils are a central part of this plan. We hope the new Association of Scottish community councils will play an active part in helping community councils throughout Scotland meet this new challenge.