Over 100,000 property transactions completed using digitised register for local land charges as Northern regions set the pace

Search Acumen

  • Search Acumen’s analysis indicates over 100,000 property transactions have been completed in local authorities which have adopted HM Land Register’s digital register for local land charges
  • Buyers’ legal advisers benefitting from 24/7 instant access to data on property restrictions
  • Levelling up in action as North set the pace with 43% of digitised transactions so far
  • Increasing uptake in the Midlands and Southern regions as digitisation gathers momentum

More than 100,000 property transactions have now benefitted from access to digitised digested local land charges data to make the property buying process simpler, faster and cheaper, according to analysis by Search Acumen, the property data, insight and technology provider.

Since 2018, HM Land Registry (HMLR) has been working with local authorities across England and Wales to digitise records of local land charges (LLCs), including planning conditions, highways agreements, tree preservation orders, conservation areas, listed buildings and environmental health notices.

With adoption gathering pace over the last 12 months, Search Acumen’s analysis of property market data from HMLR indicates that the number of property buyers and their conveyancers benefitting from instant, 24/7 access to this essential information has now reached six figures, surpassing 107,000 according to the latest available data.

Its findings show that Northern regions are setting the pace of change when it comes to delivering transactions using digitised LLCs. While the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humberside account for just 23% of local authorities who have completed their digital switchover, they have delivered more than two in five (43%) of digitised transactions so far.

This is helped by the fact that Northern regions were home to 50% of the early adopters in 2018, when Liverpool and Blackpool were among the first four local authorities to digitise their local land charges. Since then, Liverpool alone has since seen more than 27,000 property transactions use the digital register to make faster assessments of any restrictions that might impact the buying and selling process.

Graph 1: Spread of local authorities with newly digitised LLCs

Search Acumen’s analysis also highlights the accelerating progress being made by HMLR to digitise more local authorities: of the 40 to have made the switch so far, 28 have digitised their LCCs since April 2021 including 16 in the last six months.

The West Midlands is home to the largest number of local authorities with digitised LLCs (seven), followed by the North East, East of England and South East (six each).

In terms of regional activity, the North West has completed the most property transactions using digitised LLC records (over 42,600), followed by the West Midlands (over 17,300) and East of England (over 16,300). Greater London (over 11,100 transactions) and the South East (over 10,300) complete the regional top five.

On a local level, Liverpool (digitised since 2018) is followed by Lambeth (2019), Blackpool (2018), Warwick (2018) and Milton Keynes (2020) in having completed the most transactions using digitised LLC via the new national digital register.

Graph 2: Spread of local authorities with newly digitised LLCs

HMLR is currently targeting 2025 to implement a fully digital LLC service, encompassing all records across England and Wales.

It is also working with property lawyers to complete a 12-month transition to switch to digital processing of AP1 applications, moving another essential part of the conveyancing process into a digitised format to speed up processing times and reduce delays and extra work caused by basic errors.

From November 2022, all AP1 submissions must be submitted digitally. HMLR recently revealed that 40% of applications are now digital with numbers increasing week on week. However, one in ten (10%) of respondents to a recent survey were still unaware that the switch was coming.

Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director at Search Acumen, comments:

“It’s very easy at the start of any digital transition to feel as though there’s a mountain to climb, but our analysis shows that thousands of property buyers and their legal advisers are already enjoying the benefit of efforts of having instant access to digitised records of vital information that can make or break the progress of a transaction.

“It’s inconceivable and intolerable that, in this day and age, buyers should have to pay legal professional to wade through time-consuming manual processes to discover planning conditions, highways agreements, and environmental health notices. No-one benefits from antiquated ways of working, and we fully support efforts to accelerate the adoption of digital LLCs across England and Wales.

“With an even tighter deadline to reach on digitisation of AP1 applications, there is growing momentum behind the practical application of technology to transform the transaction process. It’s vital that conveyancers don’t delay in engaging with change: procrastination is the enemy of progress when it comes to proptech, and those firms who move first can start to bank the benefits of quicker, simpler and more accurate processes to deliver a service to clients that is fit for the 21st century.”


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