Land Registry consults on taking on LLC searches

Last night Land Registry issued the following press release.  More comment will follow from Today’s Conveyancer for our Monday news letter.
Land Registry today, Thursday 16 January, launches a consultation which aims to make the house buying process easier by bringing efficiencies to the property sector, digitising government services and making public data more easily accessible for the benefit of the wider economy. 
Following a successful prototype, Land Registry is publically consulting on providing Local Land Charge searches in addition to keeping and maintaining the Land Register, where more than 23 million titles — the evidence of ownership in England and Wales — are documented.
Currently provided through 348 local authorities, Local Land Charge (LLC) searches cover a wide range of property related entries including tree preservation orders and conservation areas. Fees vary from £6 to £96 and the turnaround time varies from one to forty days. 
Through today’s consultation Land Registry will seek people’s views on assuming statutory responsibility for maintaining a centralised LLC Register which will enable them to offer customers an efficient, standardised and digital service. 
Within the scope of the original prototype Land Registry also explored using open standards for local authorities to publish Con 29 information (a standard set of enquiries including public foot paths, building control regulations and property related entries, copyright owned by the Law Society). Land Registry will be working with a range of stakeholders and the market to develop a prototype for Con 29 searches in the future.
Pete Flynn, Technical Support Manager, from Liverpool City Council (who were part of the prototype) said:
“Liverpool City Council were pleased to work with Land Registry in developing the prototype for answering Local Land Charge (LLC1) enquiries.  Together we demonstrated that this could work and that if Land Registry were to roll this out then there could be benefits to the conveyancing process in the UK.”
Ed Lester, Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive said:
“There are huge variations in how Local Land Charges information is held across local authorities, ranging from paper record cards and plans to scanned data and microfiche, resulting in variations in cost, quality and speed.  
“Given the importance of the UK property market to our economy we are trying to make a real difference to conveyancing efficiency by providing easy and transparent access to vital land and property information which also supports the Government’s digital by default agenda for public services.”
The consultation will also be seeking views on extending Land Registry’s powers to provide information and register services relating to land and other property to enable it to play a wider role in facilitating the land and property market. 
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