Developers often agree to make payments to aid local communities as a condition of planning permission.
These payments are used as "developer contributions" towards transport projects that will help support the new development.
Deputy chief executive of Cambridgeshire County Council Brian Smith told NCE that developers were threatening to delay housing schemes until the market recovers.
This is creating shortfalls in council infrastructure budgets.
Smith, who is also president of county engineers body CSS, said the problem is particularly acute in the government's growth areas in the South East.
"Some developers cannot now afford what has been negotiated," said Smith.
"There's no doubt from my contacts with council treasurers up and down the country that it's a matter of increasing concern," he added.