NEARLY £6m of Cogges Link Road money will have to be returned to developers because the county council has failed to spend it in time.

The money is part of the £17.23m developers promised towards infrastructure for large housing estates in Witney, which was set aside for the ill-fated road scheme.

Oxfordshire County Council will have to return £5.99m due to timescale clauses in developer contracts if the money is not spent by January.

Despite the pressing deadline County Hall has pledged to wait until West Oxfordshire District Council has finalised its core strategy before spending the money.

But the district council’s final version of its blueprint for homes, businesses and infrastructure in West Oxfordshire will not be ready until the spring.

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said the council was in negotiations with developers to renegotiate the contracts and retain the money.

He said: “The council would find it very disappointing that having had planning permission they walk away from Witney and not use the money to improve the traffic conditions for the residents of the town.”

He said he was frustrated by the continued delays in spending the cash but said the council needed to go through the correct process.

He added: “We are working with the district council to find a solution in Witney and have obviously got to look at what the council’s core strategy will provide.”

He would not say if the money would be used on one scheme or several but said it would not be spent on a four-way junction on the A40 at Shores Green while the scheme required the compulsory purchase of land.

The Cogges Link Road scheme collapsed in June after a Government inspector decided the council could not compulsorily purchase land needed for it to go ahead.

But James Mawle, who owns the majority of land needed for Shores Green, said: “We have offered to both pay for and administer the compulsory purchase order process, so there is no real reason the county council should not wish to do it because there is no risk to them.”

Developer funding from Mr Mawle’s East Witney housing development of 300 homes is expected to pay for the construction of the Shores Green junction.

The compulsory purchase order required for the junction does not relate to land owned by Mr Mawle.

The county council had £17.23m to spend on the link road in June, including £8.24m in secured developer cash and £4.62m from council funds.

This includes money £4.78m from Madley Park, £2.54m from Deer Park, £407,075 for Windrush Park and £555,256 for Sainsbury’s.

But only £1.81m of the developer funds are non-returnable, with another £1.07m due to be returned between January 2015 and May 2018.