Securing National HQ of Great British Railways to Derby

Expert Insights / Relocation
26th July 2023


Derby City Council appointed DragonGate to identify opportunities to secure civil service jobs to the city region. Derby has historically missed out on all Government relocation programmes and as a consequence had fewer civil servants than almost any city in the UK. National civil service jobs would mean increasing the career opportunities for local residents and multiplying private sector investment into the city.

DragonGate’s Approach

DragonGate set up and worked closely with a Derby task and finish group to oversee the project. The rapid review programme DragonGate led included;

  • Reviewing Derby’s key strengths and weakness within the context of Government’s relocation agenda
  • Identifying and shortlisting what Government functions- present and future- would best complement the Derby vision
  • Developing and stress testing an evidence-based vision paper
  • Rapid engagement to secure anchor backers for the Derby vision including the Midlands Engine
  • Next steps engagement plan


GBR National HQ

The early engagement and market analysis had already identified rail and transport as one of the key critical strengths the city region had to offer Government. Following early engagement with Government a national competition for the soon to be formed Great British Railways was organised. Over 40 towns, cities and regions competed for the prize including Birmingham, Newcastle, York and Leeds

DragonGate supported Team Derby at every stage of the project including;

  • Early engagement with industry, local and national politicians and NGOs to help secure maximum support for the bid including Rolls-Royce, Toyota and Alstom
  • Working with the economic development team to provide the evidence and arguments behind the technical bid
  • Competitor analysis
  • Strategic messaging including developing the slides for the Ministerial visit to Derby



Derby came first in both the popular vote and technical bid for GBR HQ. The announcement has corrected decades of Derby being overlooked by the civil service and will play a significant part in the city’s regeneration plans – with the potential for accelerating industry investment and improving social mobility for residents


“Having worked with DragonGate in previous roles in Sheffield and Hampshire, I knew they could play an invaluable part for Derby’s Levelling Up ambitions. The unique market intelligence, guidance and support DragonGate provided were critical elements in our successful campaign to secure Great British Railways to Derby. This was an important project for the City that until now had been always overlooked by the Civil Service and offered the potential, beyond that of other Government relocation projects, to be synergistic with the local economic strengths. On this basis “Team Derby” are proud to have secured the national HQ for Great British Railways in a competitive process against other key locations including Birmingham, York and Newcastle.

This achievement was a product of a city-wide approach with key contributions from industry and local Government. However, I am particularly appreciative of the work DragonGate produced in supporting our technical bid and early preparations for the project which meant we were always one step ahead of the competition.”

David Fletcher, Director of City Development & Growth, Derby City Council


To access the full presentations and to download a coply, please click on the link below

Tim Philpott is a Programme Manager at DGMI with responsibility for Levelling Up and Innovation to Operation workstreams (split across DGMI and BBI).

Nicholas is Managing Director of DragonGate Market Intelligence, and has been an important figure in the niche yet influential world of public sector market intelligence for the past decade

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