Enfield Council will work with smaller building firms on its future housing schemes in a bid to avoid setbacks that have dogged a recent project.

Small and medium-sized (SME) firms are thought to be a better bet than big contractors when it comes to building homes on smaller sites, according to a council report.

The council will also look to simplify design and construction and tighten up its negotiating stance in a bid to reduce the risks it faces from construction projects.

The measures are outlined in a report to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee (OSC) on the first phase of the “small sites” project.

The scheme was designed to provide 94 homes on seven sites across the borough, and construction began in 2014.

But the project soon ran into difficulty when one of the main contractors – Climate Energy – went bust the following year.

This led to delays and cost overruns as the council was forced to find a new contractor – and some half-built homes had to be pulled down due to weather damage.

The council has reviewed the project and plans to change its approach to future housing schemes to stop the problems from recurring.

Joanne Drew, the council’s director of housing and regeneration, told the OSC on Wednesday (April 4): “Small sites delivery is least attractive from a developers’ perspective. It is finicky and time consuming for a very small output.

“The government has announced funding to develop SME builders’ capacity.

“We want to nurture local SME developers and help them by making their job very simple.

“They want to have a clear brief about the house they have to build and get on with the job of building it.”

A report by Paul White, the council’s housing development manager, reveals the council “packaged up” the houses on the small sites scheme to suit bigger contractors.

But this led to problems for the firms, including difficulties coordinating transport between different sites.

The report says smaller packages of sites tendered to SME contractors “may be a better approach”.

Ms Drew said the council was aware the project came with a range of risks but added “all the risks materialised in one go”.

The report states that the collapse of Climate Energy was due to a “sudden, unexpected change in central government policy” following the 2015 general election.

This led to the loss of key members of staff, which meant “designs were left undeveloped or information lost”.

Mr White told the committee the remaining homes on phase one of the small sites scheme would finally be finished in July.