A DEVELOPMENT firm fired mid contract and a raft of delayed house building projects has cost tax payers close to £5m in four years.

In 2014 a plan to build council houses in Epping Forest for the first time in 30 years begun, when Eleanor Laing MP broke ground in a JCB.

A year later and Broadway Construction Limited was asked to stop building 34 homes in Waltham Abbey, leaving P.A. Finlay and Company Ltd to finish the work by October 2017 at a total cost of £5.85m – 102 weeks over schedule and £3.5m more than originally budgeted.

In addition to soaring costs at several other delayed developments, the council was forced to pay Broadway £80,000 in February this year after the St Alban’s company convinced an adjudication panel EFDC should have served it a second pay-less notification before terminating their contract.

In a report put before the council’s cabinet on Tuesday evening, an officer wrote: “This can be seen as the premium paid for appointing a contractor to take on another contractor’s unfinished work and all the risks associated with the project.”

While further pay-outs were avoided when the adjudication panel ruled in the council’s favour on Broadway’s other complaints, which managing director Steven Fry outlined in a 2016 interview with The Guardian, costs have been piling up elsewhere in developments led by other private contractors.

A 51 home development in Burton Road, Loughton will likely finish 26 weeks late in August 2018, costing just shy of £1m more than the project’s £9.5m original budget.

Smaller overspends include £47,000 for a two week asbestos delay in a four home Northweald development, £25,000 for a six week delay in Stewards Green Road, Epping that followed a dispute over staircase placement and £5,000 for a one week bad weather delay in Parklands, Epping.

Only one development - a one home build in Centre Drive, Epping - was on time and on budget.

Since the council began its council house building project, its various contracts have cost £4,857,571 more than first expected.

Speaking at Tuesday's meeting, assistant director of housing property Paul Pledger said: "There are 34 homes that make up phase three and the council has tried a number of different contract types to try and deliver these, in the light that the council struggled to find contractors that were willing to take on small contracts.

"But we have secured a number of good contracts and I am pleased to say all of the council's contracts are making good progress.

"There are some developments which have increased costs but actually not that much."