Heating firm seeks approval for £10m R&D centre

Ideal Heating has submitted plans for a new £10m research and development facility at its UK headquarters in Hull.

The UK Technology Centre will play a key role in developing and testing low carbon heating solutions, such as air source heat pumps. 

The state-of-the-art facility is planned for Ideal Heating’s site at National Avenue in Hull, where 70 people are currently employed in research and development roles. The investment in industry-leading R&D facilities will enable that number to rise to 100 and underpin long-term employment at the site where 800 staff are based.

Ideal Heating is the UK leader in both the domestic and commercial heating markets and is investing heavily in low carbon innovation and product development. The business is part of Groupe Atlantic, a global leader in thermal comfort. 

A detailed planning application for the centre has been submitted to Hull City Council, with designs produced by Hull-based architects and civil/structural engineers GGP Consult. Dependent on planning approval, construction is expected to begin this autumn, with the facility due to open in mid-2024.

The proposed facility forms part of a wider £60m investment programme by Ideal Heating, supported by Groupe Atlantic, across the National Avenue site to increase manufacturing and distribution capacity and accommodate heat pump production and warehousing.

The centre will help to develop the solutions needed to decarbonise UK homes and supports the Government’s ambitious targets for head pump deployment, including for 600,000 heat pumps to be installed in domestic properties annually by 2028.

Phil Kent, R&D director for combustion at Ideal Heating, said: “Domestic and commercial heating providers have a vital role to play in reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change. As the market leader, we’re serious about playing our full part in meeting the challenge the UK faces in accelerating the adoption of heat pumps and other low carbon solutions. 

“Our new UK Technology Centre will be a state-of-the-art, UK-leading facility which will enable us to develop and deliver future heating solutions and make big strides forward in our net zero journey.”

The centre will provide a purpose-designed new home for Ideal Heating’s R&D team, which has an increasing range of engineering roles related to design, development, electronics, simulation and product testing disciplines. Laboratory facilities within the 38,000 sq ft (3,500 sq m), two-storey building will enable the R&D team to simulate a range of scenarios and conditions to test new innovations and advancements.

Helen Villamuera, Ideal Heating’s Engineering Director, is coordinating the investment and development programme at National Avenue. She said: “Since being acquired by Groupe Atlantic in 2015, Ideal Heating has remained a UK-leading manufacturer based in Hull and with other sites across the country.

“The huge investment being delivered across our main site at National Avenue, including in the new UK Technology Centre, underpins our position as a leader in the domestic and commercial heating markets and puts us at the forefront of the industry’s net zero transition.

“The new R&D centre is a key element of our development and growth strategy, in what is a rapidly-evolving heating industry.”

Ideal Heating is also investing in a new National Training & Technology Centre at Bridgehead business park in East Yorkshire, with a focus on low-carbon heating and up-skilling thousands of boiler installers across the UK to supply heat pumps to customers.