So why is all this money just sitting in the bank?

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More than £1m set aside for community projects to offset the impact of large developments has not been spent.

The cash is given to Dacorum Borough Council under S106 agreements by developers in return for planning permission for their projects.

Gordon Bluck, vice-chairman of Berkhamsted Community Partnership, said: “There’s all this money just sitting there, which I think is a disgrace. Some will have to be returned to the developers if it’s not spent. We are talking about a great deal of money.”

In 2002, the council was given £32,853 from the developers of 104 new homes in Robertson Road, Berkhamsted.

The cash was set aside for a new play area that people living nearby did not want.

After a lot of debate, it was decided late last month to build the play area. If nothing had been done by December, the council would have had to return the cash to developers.

In 2006, John Lewis gave the council £25,500 for expanding its Waitrose store in St John’s Well Lane, Berkhamsted.

The council began spending the cash – to repair a footbridge between Canal Fields and the store – only this year.

It also got more than £150,000 from the developers of Hemel Hempstead’s Leisure World as long ago as 1991 – and that cash has not been spent either.

Mr Bluck said: “What’s the point if it’s just sitting in a bank account doing nothing?”

He dug up the figures after the council cancelled funding of his group. Some of the cash could go to the group to improve Berkhamsted, he said.

But lead planning officer Robert Freeman said much of the money could only be spent on projects specifically linked to new developments.

He said saving the cash helped the council make longer-term plans about how to spend it wisely.