BOSCOMBE’S beachside ‘business park’ made up of shipping containers remains unoccupied more than a year after it was due to open. 

Questions remain unanswered surrounding Toft Box Business Park’s usage after BCP Council initially said it would be up and running in Easter 2023. 

It was expected to open in time for summer 2023, but “bad weather” was blamed for the delay. Then, that summer deputy council leader Millie Earl said contracts were delayed until the following year. 

Cllr Andy Martin, cabinet member for customer, communications and culture, said in February the authority is looking forward to appointing final operators “this spring”. 

But nothing has so far happened. 

(Image: Daily Echo)

The Echo asked BCP Council what is going on, for an opening date, whether businesses have been secured and whether the business park is £140,000 well spent given the significant delays in getting it started. 

Rob Dunford, interim director of investment and development at BCP Council, said the construction of the business park is now complete. 

He added: "We continue to work with the landlord to obtain necessary final site approvals, and will be inviting expressions of interest from potential operators later this year.  

“Operators must be business start-ups in the leisure sector, based in the wider Boscombe area. 

“Despite some challenges and delays, we remain confident that Toft Steps Business Park will positively impact Boscombe’s seafront by fostering up to 15 new businesses and 30 new jobs.” 

BCP Council has previously told the Echo that up to 30 businesses expressed interest and were lined up to move into the three shipping containers. 

It took so long to get it up and running that BCP Council had to reapply for planning permission to itself to keep the containers along the promenade. 

(Image: Daily Echo)

Each of the three 40ft shipping containers are available on a one-year lease for a start-up business in the BCP area.  

They all arrived on the back of a lorry from the New Forest in March last year and are all insulated, fitted with electrics and green cladding on the exterior, and in one a toilet block is fitted with sink and taps.  

The authority said the aim of the box business park is to "establish a low-cost pathway for budding entrepreneurs, creating jobs and economic growth within leisure and tourism in Boscombe”.  

Funding for the seafront box park is from almost £22million from central government’s Towns Fund scheme for Boscombe, with the Toft Box Park costing £140,000.  

Ten projects were initially planned for the regeneration of Boscombe, with each one requiring a detailed business plan in order for the full funding to be granted. 

Various other projects include a Kings Park learning and skills hub, overhauling transport connections including walking, cycling and bus routes and Wi-Fi across the town.  

However, as reported earlier this year, the Royal Arcade regeneration will no longer go ahead because of spiralling industry costs.