AS much as £7.3million in unspent planning development cash is being held by Braintree Council – a sum that has grown by a third in two years.

Mick Radley, chairman of the performance management scrutiny committee, said the pace of delivery was “far from being acceptable”, with 170 unspent contributions earmarked for public open spaces that Braintree Council has responsibility for.

These contributions have been held for an average of five years with 16 held for 10 years or more.

The total value of the section 106 contributions is £4.1million.

Section 106 agreements are legal contracts between local authorities and developers to reduce the impact of developments.

The most common schemes include public open space, affordable housing, education, highways, town centre improvements and health.

As of March 2022, a total of £7.3million was held by the council.

The level of funds being held has increased due to council expenditure being significantly lower than the funds from developers.

Over the past six years, expenditure has only been £2.2million compared to £7.1million income.

The increase in cash has mainly been driven by the growth in housing which has risen from 291 to 1,081 properties a year over a six-year period.

The committee made a number of recommendations over resources assigned to delivering s106 expenditure, with the main focus on public open spaces.

The cabinet said if funding secured for another purpose is coming to the time limit in which it must be spent then officers would need to ensure those projects are prioritised.

A recommendation of adopting targets was rejected by the cabinet.

Braintree and Witham Times: Councillor Radley told Braintree cabinet he was disappointed by the cabinet response to the committee recommendationsCouncillor Radley told Braintree cabinet he was disappointed by the cabinet response to the committee recommendations (Image: N/A)

Mr Radley told a council cabinet meeting: “I am quite disappointed by the cabinet response to the committee recommendations.

"The report clearly demonstrates that the pace of delivery is far from being acceptable yet the responses do very little in terms of commitment and action in terms of addressing the situation."

Councillor Gabrielle Spray, cabinet member for planning and infrastructure, said: “I am confident that the recommendations and our responses to them will help with the whole process.”