Graham Farrant, chief executive and chief land registrar, HM Land Registry, explains how its people and emerging technology will develop the public sector
This time last year I, like many at HM Land Registry, was facing an uncertain future, with continued speculation about potential privatisation and conflicting opinions around the way forward for the organisation. But we are in a very different positon today, firmly in the public sector and prepared to embark on an ambitious digital transformation.
In releasing our annual report and accounts yesterday, we are setting out our priorities for a digital transformation towards becoming the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data. Truly an ambitious vision, but one that will have dramatic and positive effects on the UK digital and tech economies.
This vision can’t be achieved overnight, and we will need to work with many partners along the way to test and define ways of working. However, I believe we are up to this task and have observed the great dedication and enthusiasm across HM Land Registry every time I visit our offices across the country.
This will transform all of England and Wales, and not just the corridors of Whitehall and the open plan offices of hi-tech hubs in London.
By achieving the comprehensive digital registration of all land by 2030 we could improve the conveyancing process, making it quicker, cheaper and more efficient; benefiting the individual buyer and the wider economy. Beyond digitising our existing services, we could release more value from the register.
Part of this will involve working creatively with key partners across both public and private sectors, ensuring our digital register is up to the task; something we will pilot through Digital Street, launching this summer.
The Digital Street is our test for a new digital register. It will tell us what information will be of use and how we might go about digitising the register to support online conveyancing. Based on the success of this, we will know how to roll out this out further and in the most effective way possible.
For similar reasons, and in response to customer demands for more property information, as well as a government commitment to innovate the digital economy, we will open our data sets wherever possible.
We will begin this process through sharing geospatial intelligence with Ordnance Survey in order to support growth and innovation in the proptech (property technology) sector; something that looks to be one of the most dynamic and exciting areas for HM Land Registry to move into.
Core to the success of all this is the real people who form the heart of our organisation. Despite speculation of a market downturn over the past year, we have seen an increase in demand on our operational staff to register transactions. We have continued processing applications as quickly as possible, prioritising time-critical cases as they arose, whilst upholding our refusal to compromise on quality.
This is why I always look forward to meeting with our various teams across England and Wales as much as I do meeting with leaders from across the private sector. Where one often showcases what innovations are technically possible and what we could learn from, the other demonstrates that we have the skills and determination to do it.