Developers Quintain and Lend Lease could be forced to build most of the £5bn Greenwich Peninsula scheme themselves, it has emerged.

The news came as the National Audit Office warned that the taxpayer risked losing £60m because of a two-year delay on the residential element of the English Partnerships scheme.

The development joint venture, known as Meridian Delta Limited (MDL), has already been forced to develop 45% of the project directly instead of the 25% originally planned, due to the scheme falling behind schedule.

The rest was to be taken on by third-party developers, but sources close to the project conceded that MDL was likely to have to build more of the 10,000-unit scheme itself as land sales plummeted. The joint venture’s agreement with English Partnerships also requires it to speed up its development.

A source within MDL said: “We can’t promise that it will be exactly 45%. It could be higher.”

It is understood MDL has dropped all plans to market land to third-party developers this year, given the economic climate.

MDL instead plans to appoint a “super-contractor” later this year for the 390-home first phase of its Peninsula Quays scheme.