Mark SayManaging EditorThursday 30 November 2017

Land Registry plans for ‘Digital Street’ and open data

Five-year strategy includes digital initiatives aimed at simplifying and speeding up processes in land and property market  

HM Land Registry is planning a handful of major digital initiatives, including a ‘Digital Street’ and a big open data campaign, as part of its business strategy for the next five years.

The agency has outlined the moves in its strategy document, published yesterday, along with stating an ambition to become the world’s leading land registry for the “speed, simplicity and open approach to data”.

Land Registry Business Strategy report coverThe Digital Street project is looking towards how land registration might work in 2030, with the first step being the creation of pilot digital register for a small selection of properties by the end of this year.

It will be fully machine reading and able to  instantly update, and aimed at making it easier for people to buy, rent, sell, finance, build and manage property.

The project involves a number of technology strands, including linking the register to a home owner’s digital identity, the possible use of artificial intelligence in conveyancing and registration, working closely with proptech, fintech and lawtech businesses, and the possibilities in using blockchain technology. It could also tie in with existing Land Registry services such as the Digital Mortgage.

Targets

A number of relevant targets are included in the strategy, including having the Digital Mortgage service in public beta over the next financial year, and launching a developer service in 2019-20. This will provide for the digital lodgement and approval of estate plans and template leases and transfers.

A Digital Transfer service for the creation, signing and registration of a transfer of a title is in the pipeline for the same year.

The Digital Street project is accompanied by a plan to build a comprehensive land register with high quality data to support the property market. The initial focus will be on completing the register of publicly held land by 2020, and in the longer term will involve investigating options for access to other information and holding additional registers.

The agency’s open data effort will involve setting up a data publishing platform in 2018-19, making 90% of its publishable data available by 2020, and adding the rest for which there is a demand in the following year. This will culminate in making the Find Property Information channel the single route of access to all of its citizen services by 2022.

It said that releasing the data it holds on 25 million land and property registered titles will support the Government’s transparency agenda.

95% digitisation

Underlying all this is an aim to digitise and automate 95% of the agency’s daily transactions by 2022, and to develop the skills of its case workers in a way that blends their registration expertise with digital systems.

Launching the strategy, Lord Henley, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “HM Land Registry’s new business strategy sets out the programme of work towards innovation and transformation.

“As a critical component of the UK’s national infrastructure, HM Land Registry’s work to make conveyancing simpler, faster and cheaper fits in with the Government’s Industrial Strategy and looks forward to a digital future.”