DELAYS in a planning process may have cost a business as much as £10m, a leading entrepreneur has said, saying the council is "almost anti-business".

Luke Davis, the brains behind Rockwater village, said delays in BCP Council’s planning department hit him hard in the pocket because of lost revenue. 

This autumn - and later than anticipated - Luke opened a Rockwater in Branksome on the old café site along the beach and is currently working on getting a Sandbanks venue open in spring. 

However, the Brighton-based businessman has said “a lack of ability and coordination in the council” is holding his business back. 

He said: “I’ve invested £20m and they’re making it impossible for me to do it. It’s getting to the point where I want to walk away. 

Bournemouth Echo: Rockwater BranksomeRockwater Branksome (Image: Newsquest)

“I own 10 businesses, invested in 40-odd, and I've never come across this sort of scenario before.” 

Read more: Fatboy Slim performs at Rockwater in Branksome

Luke said he has made contact with BCP Council over 10 months to request signage for Rockwater can be put on the side of the building. 

After no reply, he went ahead and put it up “sympathetically” and that it looked “amazing”. 

“It came back from the planning department that we can’t have it,” Luke said.

Bournemouth Echo: Rockwater in SandbanksRockwater in Sandbanks (Image: Newsquest)

“But this is just one in a list of delays which have cost me six months. We’re talking about millions and millions of pounds in lost revenue to the point that it is jeopardizing the project. 

“I missed opening in last summer, the Sandbanks one may miss the summer... it’s almost as if they’re anti-business.” 

He added: “At the top level they're encouraging people like myself to come down and invest.  

“We've got these aspirations to update the seafront and we want to attract tourism, a thriving community and young people to stay. 

“It's not everyone in the council as there are some really, really supportive individuals – but as a cohesive unit, it doesn’t work because their departments don’t speak to each other.” 

In total, Luke estimates he has lost around £8m to £10m in lost revenue and that could be higher if Sandbanks isn’t built on time. 

Bournemouth Echo: Rockwater at Branksome beach

BCP’s chief operations officer Jess Gibbons said the volume of planning applications the authority gets coupled with a shortage of qualified planning officers does play some part in the speed at which applications are determined. 

She added: “The planning applications for Rockwater, Branksome and Sandbanks were submitted by a planning agent and not the developer themselves.  

“Where an applicant is represented in this way, we deal solely with the agent throughout the application process. This is in the interests of efficiency and to avoid confusion and duplication of work. It is for the planning agent to keep their client (the applicant) informed on progress.” 

Ms Gibbons said there were a number of reasons why there was a delay on the Branksome site, including the need for an ecological and noise reports, a design and access statement which was revised and “correcting factual errors on documents” in November 2022.

“An amended plan was submitted one week before the application was considered by the planning committee on 15 Dec 2022,” she added. 

“The Sandbanks site is currently under determination, as the applicant is seeking to make material amendments to the approved plans.   

"Notice of this was received from the planning agent in August and they have received an update on the application from us within the last few weeks.”