Scrapping Land Registry privatisation ‘a victory for common sense’

Ryan Bembridge

September 9, 2016

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Scrapping the privatisation of the Land Registry will be a victory for common sense if confirmed following consultation, says Search Acumen’s managing director Andrew Lloyd.

While the government hasn’t confirmed the move plans to privatise the Land Registry – announced in the Queen’s Speech in May – were expected to be included in the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill put to parliament on Wednesday evening.

However details of the plans were omitted, indicating the proposal has been dropped.

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Andrew Lloyd, Search Acumen’s managing director, said: “The government is thinking again on Land Registry privatisation.

“If the abandonment of the sale is confirmed, this will be both a victory for common sense and a vindication of the property industry’s spirited campaign against the proposal over the past 12 months.

“We welcome this step in the right direction but the matter has not yet been concluded – the threat to both the industry and the freedom of open data remains.

“Now is the time for property professionals to press the government on the sale and reiterate that it is not only bad for the industry, it is bad for everyone who owns or aspires to own a property.”

Lloyd reckoned the Land Registry has become more efficient and innovative in recent years, with the body offering much of its raw data for free.

Search Acumen for example has benefitted by integrating the Land Registry’s data so conveyancers can visualise and validate property locations by displaying a boundary map on-screen using a live data link.

Lloyd added: “Land Registry has come in for quite a bit of criticism over the years for being outdated, old fashioned, inefficient. That’s part of the rationale for a sale.

“But over the past few years things have actually moved in a much more positive direction, with Land Registry making great strides in commercialising its data, and in grasping the potential of ‘Big Data’.

“This has allowed innovators and disrupters in the private sector – companies like Search Acumen – to transform the industry for the better through new products that utilise Land Registry data.

“Entrepreneurs and creative minds are unlocking the opportunities buried in big data, and deploying that acumen to create efficiencies for property and legal professionals.

“Land Registry is committed to going further and release more of its data sets in the near future, so why privatise and jeopardise all of this progress?

“As the UK follows the post-Brexit journey and the housing crisis continues, I hope that the Land Registry is used efficiently to help strengthen our industry rather than add to our problems.”