Herefordshire is sitting on over £9 million from developers which was intended to be spent on better transport and community facilities across the county, it has been revealed.

So-called section 106 agreements are financial undertakings developers give to councils made when larger schemes are given planning permission, to pay for improvements for the wider community.

Herefordshire Council’s deputy leader Liz Harvey told councillors that the council’s Economy and Place Directorate has £6.2 million of unspent section 106 contributions, £4.2 million of which is earmarked for highways and transport.

The Children and Families Directorate meanwhile has a further £2.9 million of unspent developer contributions, despite having put a policy in place three years ago on how such money should be spent.

Meanwhile, developments which gave rise to this funding are already built and lived in, Coun Harvey added.

“This is yet another inherited position which has taken a long to unpick and understand."

The council now aims to “fast-track” contracts quickly, “with contractors who have already demonstrated their competence and ability to provide value for money,” she said.

“It’s vital for our communities that we get on top of this backlog.”

Welcoming the move, council leader David Hitchiner said: “This has been quite long outstanding – money we hold on the council’s balance sheet which is just sat there, which should be used for its original purpose.”

Councillors also agreed to engage more early on with the public in setting development priorities for the county.

The current “core strategy” covers all development in Herefordshire until 2031, but the process to update this and take it up to 2041 begins shortly.

Green Party spokesperson Coun Fagan told councillors: “I have been quite surprised at the low level of education within the community around planning. A lot of people have disengaged from the process, they’ don’t know what’s going on in their area.”

She warned: “There is also a lot of faith to be restored around the planning process. it dominates parish council meetings, and those with a NDP (neighbourhood development plan) feel it is being ignored by planners.

“And there is a lot of frustration around enforcement and ‘planning by condition’, because people know it’s very easy to change or ignore conditions.”

Coun Harvey said Herefordshire has the highest share in England of communities with NDPs either adopted or under development.

“But less weight has been given to NDPs while we haven’t had a five-year housing land supply, which has been a huge frustration to communities who developed them,” she said.

“Fortunately, we now have a seven-year land supply which provides a buffer.

“But there is a long journey to go on with planning. It’s important people engage with the process to develop the county plan over the next 12 months, when it’s plastic and capable of being influenced.”