Mutual ground is becoming an increasingly important part of both land acquisition, site identification, planning and of course long term sales attractiveness for many developers, but before we delve into the role of developers in mutual ground let’s explore firstly, what is mutual ground?
When we talk about mutual ground, of course we’re referencing the spaces that contribute to a wider neighbourhood that are not designated to individual property plots. They are instead the responsibility of the developer, and must be tended to by the developer for the betterment of the broader neighbourhood. These slices of land can range in form and size from small paths to extensive roadways, edges and borders.
But what role and responsibilities do developers have in terms of mutual ground and communal spaces? At Virtu, we work alongside developers from their initial planning stages, to the assignment of work, and the execution of maintenance on both an emergency and routine basis.
As the old adage suggests, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Developers must consider who is responsible for each and every facet and square foot of their prospective development in order to ensure that they do not encounter any disputes in the future. For example, an uneven balance between revenue producing property, and the expense of communal areas, could reduce your overall profits – developers must carefully consider whether allocating valuable square footage to mutual ground is adding or detracting value to their neighbourhood. What’s more, communal spaces must be distributed in a way that benefits the wider neighbourhood, or else potentially disrupt the value of certain houses by denying their equal access to green spaces. Lastly, planning must account for the regular changes to environmental regulations and aim to remain compliant – for example, the new UK Environment Bill insists that new developments from 2023 onwards must have a 10 per cent biodiversity net gain. With climate action becoming increasingly popular and necessary in the property and construction sectors, developers must be aware of any changes to these regulations and adapt their plans accordingly.
Once developers have determined the specific locations and logistics of their neighbourhoods’ communal spaces, it is time to designate who will be responsible for their upkeep. This entails hiring a company such as Virtu to cater to the ongoing maintenance of these spaces. By outsourcing these tasks as part of the role of developers in mutual ground, teams and individuals ensure responsibility over the mutual ground spaces, but practically ensure that a grounds maintenance team with the knowledge and equipment to carry out maintenance as and when required are instructed formally. In the event of an emergency, homeowners and developers can work alongside maintenance providers using digital platforms, such as Virtu’s Online Portals, to arrange a streamlined solution to any pending problems. However, assigning work to companies such as Virtu is important on a regular, scheduled basis, not just for emergencies – leaf clearance services, border edging, grass cutting and weed removal must be routinely carried out in order to produce long-term results that keep your neighbourhood looking its best, and keep occupants happy.
Developers should hire a grounds maintenance service that offers a tailored service that adapts to seasonal change and keeps biodiversity at its core. For example, communal areas with an abundance of trees should be scheduled in for more frequent leaf clearance. Thankfully, Virtu are able to assess the individual needs of your development and its communal spaces and, working alongside our audit and accountancy teams, can produce a plan for the maintenance of your mutual ground. Our Social Value Act pledges to keep biodiversity at the heart of our work, allowing us to take positive action to enrich the neighbourhoods that we maintain – whether it’s encouraging the development of local ecosystems with the planting of wildflowers, or planting trees for every new property we take on, we actively seek to leave the neighbourhoods we maintain in a better condition.
In considering the role of developers in mutual ground, Technical Leads, Sales Directors and owners must think beyond the immediate and more to the long term. Developers have a duty to ensure that their neighbourhood’s’ communal areas are looked after by a trustworthy grounds maintenance provider. Virtu’s mutual ground service is a comprehensive, adaptable and cost-effective way to ensure that your communal spaces are maintained year-round, for years to come. For more information, contact Virtu using the form below: