Derbyshire Rail Innovation Centre on track for Planning Permission


Our experts across multiple disciplines in the East Midlands are leading the design team working on RIBA Stage 4 designs for the Derbyshire Rail Industry Innovation Vehicle (DRIIVe) in Chesterfield, which is awaiting planning permission.

The modern rail innovation and training centre will provide more than 1,400 square metres of floor space consisting of classroom and workshop training areas, and specialist research and development facilities – including a digital laboratory and commercial offices.

Appointed via the ESPO 2664 framework, our involvement so far includes a full-service offering, comprising structural and civil engineering consultancy, geo-environmental engineering investigations and transport planning advice. Our team are working to overcome the operational constraints posed by the busy industrial site, while also protecting the surrounding area’s interesting features – such as the historically significant Barrow Hill Roundhouse.

Director Kriston Harvey said: “This is a very important project for the area and therefore we’re proud to be involved. Not only will it bring additional full-time jobs to the local area, it will also provide training facilities to enable people to learn new skills and open the door to highly skilled career opportunities in the rail industry. The research and development aspect of the building will see it become a prominent location for rail technology research and innovation, with fantastic links to the rail network.

“As everyone recognises the significant benefits that the project can bring to the community, engagement between the client, design team and other key stakeholders has been very positive and productive.

“Chesterfield has a clear vision for how it wants to develop over the coming years, with a strong plan for growth – it has been exciting to work with the council on this key project.”

In total the building is expected to cost around £4 million, with funding for the project being provided through the Staveley Town Deal. Development of the centre is being delivered by Barrow Hill Engine Shed Society, Chesterfield Borough Council and New Rail – part of Newcastle University.

Mervyn Allcock, general manager at Barrow Hill Roundhouse, said: “If it is approved, DRIIVe will help establish Barrow Hill as the home of the rail industry in Chesterfield and we look forward to speaking to companies about the potential benefits of being based at the centre. Any revenue from the building will be used to support the Roundhouse in achieving its aim of preserving our local Rail heritage.”

Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council and vice chair of the Staveley Town Deal Board, said: “The Rail sector offers a fantastic range of high-quality careers and DRIIVe is all about ensuing our residents can receive the skills and training they need to access these opportunities. This is an ambitious project that will create opportunities for generations to come and reflects the council’s aims to expand the local Rail sector.

“I’m delighted that Town Deal funding is being used to support the development of this building because new training facilities like this will improve career prospects and help ensure that Staveley is the place to start, to stay and to grow.”

We are excited to be working alongside architect Frank Shaw Associates, building services consultancy CPW and planning consultant Planning & Design Group. A planning decision is expected in early 2024.