HE IS the brain and driving force behind some of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole's most successful and ambitious building projects. 

But property developer tycoon Richard Carr, the chief executive of Poole-based Fortitudo, has no plans on slowing down any time soon. 

There was a time when Fortitudo was only really known in Dorset but, driven by “a desire to do good for people and improve lives”, Mr Carr’s empire is now national, boasting projects as far as Bolton, Greater Manchester. 

Sitting down with the Echo, Mr Carr - whose portfolio includes Boho Grand, Salterns Marina and three Sandbanks hotels - revealed he has had to change the company's direction from a model that has seen much success.

Bournemouth Echo: Fortitudo chief executiveFortitudo chief executive (Image: Daily Echo)

“I changed the direction of the business about a year ago so we are not so reliant on residential. We do quite a lot of small industrial units now, roadside retail working with McDonald's and Burger King as well as EV charging stations,” he said.

“Build cost inflation has had a significant effect on the ability to deliver residential schemes because you can’t have build cost inflation like we have had and prices continually going up and up because young people have to pass an affordability check. 

“My personal view is the country is in a really difficult position to deliver new homes for young people. The aspiration for young people owning their own home is moving away, which is completely wrong.

Bournemouth Echo:

“This government scrapped the Help to Buy Scheme and that was just crass stupidity because it gave young people a chance to get on the ladder and that's what needs to happen again.” 

Mr Carr said something has gone “severely wrong” in the political system to have the “Labour party as the party of home ownership and the Conservatives not”. 

But would he ever get into politics? 

“No, I’m too old for that. I’ve missed the boat. 

“I’ve been interested in politics from a young age. I started in business aged 21 and have had a roller coaster of a career. 

“However, I do enjoy it and I despair at the state of our political system in this country of the merry-go-round of Labour and Conservative.” 

He wants to see a prime minister similar to Margaret Thatcher, spearheading “low taxation, low regulation and less involvement in people’s day-to-day lives”, back in power. 

Bournemouth Echo: Richard Carr

He said he pays particularly close attention to local politics and BCP Council. 

“The council is in a very difficult position. Their budget in round terms is £300m: £220m gets spent on social services, child services and elderly care. 

“That leaves them £80m to run the council. They need to make £40m of cuts well... it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that isn't going to happen. 

“I think that councils need to get back to collecting money and dealing with essential services. And the development and that type of activity should be left to the private sector.” 

If in power, though, he would change the planning system nationally. “It’s in a mess; planning applications can take 12 to 18 months to get through. 

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“Name one government department that is functioning properly. You can’t. 

“We always bang the drum in the West about how we live in a democracy, but we don't because the left wing and the woke mob have infiltrated every single facet of this country, whether it’s local government, central government, the House of Lords or the police. 

“I was in South France the other weekend and I was sat outside the hotel by the swimming pool watching this building site.  

“I thought to myself that's bloody weird. How is it that the second-largest economy in the EU doesn't wear hard hats? 

“Here in the UK, if we were to do that, the Health and Safety Executive would shut us down.”  

Away from his office, Mr Carr enjoys a simpler life spending time with his three young children and boating. 

But for now, as he approaches 65, he will continue 'building an empire' and enjoying the “thrill that comes with business” with no sign of retirement on the horizon.