An interview with HM Land Registry: What’s next with digitisation?

tmgroup talk to Jamie Winch, Policy and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Local Land Charges Programme, HM Land Registry about improving property search ordering through digitisation.

What are the benefits of a national digital Local Land Charges Register?

HM Land Registry (HMLR)’s national Local Land Charges (LLC) Register forms part of our transformational plans to become a more digital and data-driven registration business. This supports the government’s ambition for HMLR to become the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data.

The LLC Register was launched in July 2018 with data from Warwick District Council and fulfils our objective to work with stakeholders in the property market to find ways to improve conveyancing. The new register helps provide a faster and simpler way to complete local land charge searches, improving the customer experience and reducing costs.

We are migrating the local land charges registers for up to 26 local authorities onto the new HMLR LLC Register in Phase 1. This will bring approximately eight percent of the national market into the central register and significantly reduce the average cost of a search for over 125,000 property buyers. 

The five local authorities currently on the LLC Register are:

• Warwick District Council

• Liverpool City Council

• Blackpool Council

• City of London Corporation

• Council of the Isles of Scilly

Benefits reported by these local authorities include:

• Reduced CON29 processing times 

• Increased capacity to undertake other activities in the time saved

• Devolution of registering charges to originating departments, increasing team capacity

• Fuller records, for example, a full spatial walkway of City of London has been created 

• Better quality records, for example, some listed building records which had been delisted have been rectified 

• Physical space saving: paper records have been digitised

• Capacity to review the CON29 process to streamline and automate

What’s coming next?

The following eleven local authorities are next in line to migrate to the LLC register:

• Lambeth Council

• Norwich City Council

• Carlisle City Council

• Milton Keynes Council

• Peterborough City Council

• North West Leicestershire District Council

• Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

• St Helens Council

• Watford Borough Council

• East Lindsey District Council

Our structured delivery approach provides flexibility for local authorities depending on their circumstances. This includes appointing an operational lead from HMLR to support local authorities with the activities needed for migration. We use the learning from each authority’s migration to inform decisions about future migrations and make improvements to the process. In total there are around 26 million charges to migrate so we have already created a number of intuitive and automated processes to speed this up.

How do you expect digitisation to shape things in the future?

The LLC Register is a governmental register which has spatial data at its core. To each spatial extent we create, we add the particulars of registration to make a local land charge.  

The register itself provides important statutory property information that informs the homebuyer during conveyancing. Once completed the LLC Register will deliver digital national data sets for specific charge types including:

• Listed buildings

• Tree preservation orders

• Conservation areas

What will search ordering look like in 2040?

We can’t speculate what search ordering may look like in 2040 but our Digital Street research programme is investigating how conveyancing might look in a future digital world.

Our Geovation project (in collaboration with Ordnance Survey) is supporting a range of PropTech companies ensuring the UK is the best place to launch and grow a start-up that uses location or property data.

Read HM Land Registry’s guest blog by Tom Ansell of Bretherton’s Solicitors to find out more about the benefits of the digital LLC Register.