HOUSEBUILDERS all too often avoid planning obligations to improve the communities around new developments, a Senedd member from Gwent has claimed.

When developers apply for planning permission, they can make offers to mitigate the impact of the building work by paying for, or providing, other benefits to the community.

These so-called 'Section 106' agreements are legally binding - but Monmouth MS Peter Fox told the Senedd "there are too many examples of local authorities not receiving the full amount that they are due".

While Section 106 deals are struck during the planning application process, they can be renegotiated at any time, and Mr Fox - the former leader of Monmouthshire County Council - said he expected Senedd members from across Wales could "recall examples" where housebuilders' initial promises had failed to fully materialise.

He has now called on the Welsh Government to give council more powers to hold developers to account and make sure they do not renege on, or alter, the terms of their Section 106 agreements.

South Wales Argus: Peter Fox, the Conservative MS for Monmouth.Peter Fox, the Conservative MS for Monmouth.

He said there were also cases where builders pledged to planners they would construct a certain amount of social housing on a new site but then "do not deliver" on those agreements - "instead re-evaluating the number of dwellings to be built on the land during the building process itself, often quoting necessity to do so on the grounds of viability".

The problem was leading to "ever-increasing social housing waiting lists"

"Will the Welsh Government explore ways to boost the powers available to local authorities to ensure that all housing developers fully play their role in unlocking the potential of our communities?" Mr Fox asked first minister Mark Drakeford. "And how is the government working with developers to encourage the building of important social infrastructure, as well as the new housing?"

Mr Drakeford agreed there were "there are many responsible building companies out there, but "we could all of us quote from our own constituency responsibilities, where developers do not complete the deal that they themselves have entered into with local authorities".

He said climate change minister Julie James was "very well aware of the need to make sure that agreements freely entered into, and planning permissions provided on the basis of those agreements, are honoured".

"The Welsh Government continues to take a very direct and active part in shaping the policy platform for the future, to make sure that those responsibilities are properly discharged," he added.