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Derby’s Rail Technical Centre (RTC) was built by the British Railways Board (BRB) in the 1960s, and quickly became an internationally recognised centre of excellence for railway research and development. Then the largest complex of its kind in the world, it began to struggle around the turn of the century from a lack of investment and diminishing activity and was earmarked for sale.

LCR took over the site in 2013 in response to a demand from the local community to retain RTC’s position as a key employment site and preserve its status as a core asset for Derby’s internationally-acclaimed engineering business cluster.

A modern business destination

In partnership with Derby City Council, RTC has been transformed into a thriving new business park supporting the Derby rail cluster, the largest collection of rail-related businesses in Europe, and enhancing its wider engineering expertise and capability.

Investing £6.5 million with support from the Regional Growth Fund, LCR has refurbished and redeveloped over 430,000 sq ft of office accommodation across 28 acres of landscaped grounds, as well as a new café and conference suite.

The site has attracted high-profile occupiers such as Hitachi Europe Ltd, Network Rail, Serco Ltd and Siemens, strengthening Derby’s reputation as a leading destination for high-tech engineering. Two suppliers to nearby Rolls Royce have recently expanded their occupation on site.

Collaboration and partnership

Throughout the ownership and management process, LCR has used its unique position on the cusp of the public and private sectors to bring together key partners to advance development.

In collaboration with the University of Derby, LCR revived the site’s Innovation Centre to provide serviced accommodation for start-up and high-tech businesses. Previously run by Derby University, the Centre had been earmarked for closure in 2017, but is now run by LCR as part of its long-term commitment to the development.

A further collaboration with Birmingham University has seen the upgrading of a state-of-the-art aerodynamic rig used to test new train designs – one of only two in Europe.

Giving back to the community

With over 30 tenants, RTC Business Park is now one of the city’s biggest employment sites, and in 2017 contributed £36.3 million GVA to the local economy.

Fully integrated into the surrounding community, LCR has also worked to support local services alongside its own asset management initiatives. A portion of the site was released for a free school, which has now been operational for over a year. 

Most recently, LCR adopted a Green Travel Plan aimed at reducing traffic around the site and improving the health and wellbeing of staff by promoting alternative commutes such as car sharing, cycling, walking and public transport. Electric bike stands have already been installed as part of the city wide electric bike scheme.

Long-term value

LCR’s approach to regeneration has helped RTC maintain its status as the UK’s premier centre for rail and high-tech engineering, as well as becoming a destination for learning and entrepreneurship.

Without a holistic approach, there was a risk that the park’s assets would have become run down and critical mass would have been lost, diminishing the potential benefits the site would bring to Derby.

By bringing forward development underpinned by a strategic vision, LCR has protected RTC’s heritage while modernising its engineering capabilities and expertise, helping to deliver high-quality employment for the long-term. 

London & Continental Railways Limited, 4th floor, One Kemble Street, London WC2B 4AN  Tel: +44 (0) 20 7391 4300  Fax: +44 (0) 20 7391 4401

Registered in England and Wales, company number 02966054 at the above address.