Low-carbon District Heating for Flagship Housing Project

When a proposed low-carbon housing development in Western Scotland was given the green light, it was decided that a biomass plant would be constructed to heat the site via a district heating system. Here, REHAU’s RAUVITHERM pre-insulated pipe would prove key to a swift and safe installation, while also ensuring minimal thermal losses between the heat source and the houses.

Situated on the picturesque shores of the Firth of Clyde, Largs has long proved to be one of Scotland’s most popular seaside resorts. While already home to 11,260 residents, North Ayrshire Council’s ambitious five-year housing plan would see the town also become host to the flagship Flatt Road housing development. 

The project would create 122 new homes, split between 54 new build houses, 22 assisted living facilities, 18 bungalows and a 28-unit sheltered housing complex. This would prove to be the largest site of its kind in the council’s wider commitment to building 1,575 new homes in the region by 2026.


Firth of Clyde, Largs




Ashleigh (Scotland) Ltd



Following a competitive selection process, Ashleigh (Scotland) Ltd was awarded the construction contract. Speaking on the development, Stuart Feay, Project Manager at Ashleigh (Scotland) Ltd, said: “Flatt Road is one of the most ambitious social housing projects in the UK to date, so everyone at Ashleigh was keen to play their part. The build was set to take place on the site of the former Largs Academy, with a view to regenerating the local area. This would help to provide affordable, energy-efficient housing for first-time buyers, or elderly residents looking to downsize.”

Low-carbon Heating and Hot Water

The construction of a biomass plant nearby was proposed as a low-carbon means of heating the site. Here, water heated by the plant would be carried to the homes via a district heating network, offering reduced carbon emissions compared to heating the buildings separately. REHAU’s RAUVITHERM pre-insulated pipe was specified for the build, with its high thermal efficiency and speed of installation making it ideal for district heating networks. 

Kenny Boyle, Sales Manager for Renewable Heating & Cooling at REHAU Building Solutions, said: “The installation of a district heat network was the ideal solution to the low-carbon aspirations of a mixed-use site such as this. The nearby biomass plant would supply affordable heat and hot water to all of the 122 homes on site, with the RAUVITHERM pipe ensuring low thermal losses between the heat source and the main development.”

Facilitating Swift Installation 

James Frew Ltd, one of Scotland’s leading plumbing and heating service providers based in the nearby Stevenston, was called upon to complete the installation of the system. Due to the nature of the build, the James Frew team would be working to strict time constraints, with both product training and installation set to take place over a 2 year period. To prevent disruption to later stages of the project, three sections of the site would also be required to be completed simultaneously. 

Speaking on this challenge, Martin Littlejohn, Project Contracts Manager at James Frew Ltd, said “Having worked with RAUVITHERM previously on a number of smaller projects, I was confident that it could be scaled up to the needs of Flatt Road. The simple EverlocTM jointing system was straightforward to install and we were able to complete the works efficiently and effectively. As an organisation, we pride ourselves on delivering operational excellence and RAUVITHERM products help us deliver quality as standard.” 

The RAUVITHERM pipe was able to be shipped cut-to-length alongside fitting and shroud kits from REHAU’s warehouse in Manchester, meaning that phased installation could remain as streamlined as possible. REHAU’s renowned EverlocTM jointing system not only ensured that the installation would remain leakproof for years to come, but also that the network could be pressure tested and operated at 70°C straight after joint completion, with no delay to the schedule. 

Kenny concluded: “The decision to make use of a district heating network has not only allowed us to supply heating and hot water to affordable, low-carbon housing, but has also provided scope for a straightforward expansion of the site should it be desired. 

“The possibility of a future expansion has been designed into the network, so there is no need to disrupt existing users’ heating and water supply should this go ahead. Through our collaboration with North Ayrshire Council, we have been able to deliver sone truly excellent results so, given the opportunity, we would be delighted to work with them again on future projects.” 

Engineering progress

Enhancing lives

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