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Minister urges wider use of UPRNs in housing


Housing Minister Christopher Pincher MP has declared support for the wider use of unique property reference numbers (UPRNs) in the public and private sectors.

Speaking at the recent GeoPlace annual conference he said the ubiquitous adoption of UPRNs could remove many barriers to progress in the housing sector as they make processes simpler and more agile.

UPRNs provide unique identifiers for each address in the country. They are allocated by local authorities and managed nationally by GeoPlace – a joint venture of the Local Government Association and Ordnance Survey – and can be used as a key feature in matching different datasets for service delivery and planning.

“When we think about the housing market, we know that the current buying and selling process is besieged by long and arduous and byzantine processes and inefficiencies,” Pincher said.

“The system even today is far too complicated, is far too long and it needs to be made easier. UPRNs can help change it for the better because of the wealth of data that goes alongside them.

“With UPRNs, the processes can be streamlined. Information like the number of previous owners, plot size, the boundaries that can all be shared digitally all with the touch of a key helping to speed the whole house buying process along.”

Helping renters

He said that, in addition to house buyers and sellers benefiting, the use of UPRNs can give renters better access to information and help to make the market safer for tenants and fairer for decent landlords and agents.

In addition, councils can use the data for better enforcement activity to protect residents in the private rented sector and contribute to better safety in buildings safety through sharing data on features such as floor plans, fire exits and sprinkler systems with emergency services.

The minister also said he believed that UPRNs can play an integral part of the transformation of the planning system. The Government wants to move away from antiquated processes toward a much more accessible map based system to give local people more input into decisions.

By providing access to UPRNs and unique street reference numbers (USRNs) developers and planning authorities can overcome many of the data sharing barriers to getting planning applications over the line, he said.

“It will inject simplicity and agility into the planning system,” he added. “It will speed up housing delivery and help us fulfil our pledge to build a million homes within the term of this Parliament and 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of this decade.

“It really is digitalisation, it really is at the heart of planning reforms so for all of these reasons the Government remains a strong champion of UPRNs.”

He also stated that central government wants to expand engagement with the housing sector and accelerate the processes involved to embed the UPRN in more datasets.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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