Stoke-on-Trent City Council – City-wide heat network

Project Details

Client / Trent City Council

Developing a city-wide heat network

3D Technical Design (3DTD) were engaged by Stoke-on-Trent City Council (SoTCC), in partnership with Nordic Heat, to complement Scandinavian best practice in network simulation, and deliver a practitioner-led turn-key buried network, entailing detailed design, procurement, and in-construction support. We developed a specifically tailored package which included:

  • RIBA 1 & 2 – Route option appraisals, Feasibility and Desktop Studies
  • RIBA 3 – Advanced Feasibility and Major Infrastructure Crossings
  • RIBA 4 – Detailed Coordination and Construction Programming
  • Preparation of CDM material
  • RIBA 5 – Detailed 3D Network Design change during construction
  • Procurement and Contract Support
  • In-Construction Support (Contract/Engineer)
  • RIBA 6 – As installed information developed for client’s live GIS system

3D Technical Design’s approach has been professional, flexible, strategic and proactive...

The process began with us understanding SoTCC’s ambitious and innovative approach to developing a City-Wide heat network to connect up to 50 buildings which would see up to 22km of network delivered, ultimately being fed low-carbon heat from Geothermal and/or Energy from Waste generation sources. The study was city/area-specific and dealt with historical industrial land use, mining, dense utility corridors, and significant chambers/tunnels which could restrict route options. A key benefit that distinguishes 3DTD’s Advanced Feasibility Studies, is the ability to reference historical projects encountering similar risks, and the measures used to respond to them, both prior to and during construction. The Advanced Feasibility and Desktop Study process was therefore highly effective in demonstrating delivery design and commercial risks, local understanding, control, planning, and experience, to all key project stakeholders (Highways, Parks, Structures, and Network Rail), which was central to the project being in a position to rapidly progress into its detailed design and procurement stages.


Following the completion of the Underground Utility Detection Survey, 3DTD were instructed to utilise the results to develop a 3D Utility Model and coordinated detailed 3D Network Design. The strategy would blend together the innovative use of 3D utility/pipe design software, with years of practical Network Installation and Coordination expertise.

The detailed design process initially involved assessing and finalising the planned route options with SoTCC Highways Officers. During this process, experienced construction practitioners presented utility, structural, and chamber risks to various Senior SoTCC Stakeholders (Highways, Parks, Structures), to agree on routes that optimised safety and minimised cost and programme disruption.


A further example of the benefits associated with the use of 3D Network Design was illustrated when a route that ran under the line of road gullies was identified. The identified route maximised the ability to maintain two-way bus flows and offered a predominantly clear path to verify in-construction, away from detected high-risk utilities. Due to the detailed design process being undertaken in the pre-construction phase, there was sufficient time available to process an application to reinstate the road gullies ~500mm higher than their existing levels. This enabled trench depths and associated costs to be significantly reduced.

The various construction phases led the pipe route from Squires View through Leak Road and Ashford Street. When the installation reached Collage Road, 3DTD were instructed to take the lead on the in-construction design coordination and support the civil contractor with practitioner driven in-trench adjustments, stress analysis and detailed isolation valve and air vent chamber design. SoTCC utilised BIM Docs and Field, to manage the design and construction elements of the project more effectively and work in a common data environment that holds all project data in the form of a real-time information source.


3DTD’s comprehensive 3D pipe route design method and procedures developed to record and store information in the CAD environment that allow the designers to continuously monitor restrictions and HAZIDs during the design and construction phases of a project, combined with a sophisticated cloud-based document management solution, resulted in significant time and cost savings during the Collage Road phase of the project. The client’s satisfaction is clearly reflected in their testimonial below:

3D Technical Design’s approach has been professional, flexible, strategic and proactive in assisting Stoke-on-Trent City Council to accelerate and control the delivery of the first phase of our District Heat Network.


Stakeholders included:

  • Client (Stoke City Council)
  • Heat Network Associates
  • Vital Energy
  • Technics Utility Surveyors
  • Highways
  • Structures
  • Network Rail
  • Canal and River Trust
  • BT
  • UKPN
  • Severn Trent
  • Cadent