Infrastructure Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Arun District Council (IB 32)

Infrastructure Bill – Clause 29 and Schedule 4 – Land Registry and Local Land Charges – Submission to the Infrastructure Bill Committee by Arun District Council

The Arun District Council is aware of the Local Land Charge Institute’s submission and support the detail contained therein. However, we enclose herewith our own observations, concerns and comments regarding the proposal.

Arun District Council process 100% of LLC1 and CON29 searches within 48 hours indeed it is possible to process LLC1 searches only within a matter of minutes. However, as almost all search requests require answers to the CON 29 enquiries and that entails us having to make enquiries of the County Council as well as other internal departments our response time then increases to a maximum of 48 hours. The Land Registry proposals are to only provide the LLC1 responses leaving the more time consuming and technical element of the process with the local authorities.

As the CON29 responses can have a direct correlation to the LLC1 response, this authority has countless reservations about the quality of the service that the end user will receive if the Land Registry proposals go ahead. Gone will be the opportunity to cross check information being provided within the two parts of the search process. We also maintain that the current proposals can only lead to a more fragmented, less reliable and costly service, meaning that the property buying public will be subjected to a lesser service than that which they currently receive in this area.

It also raises numerous questions about who will be responsible for sorting out queries following search results being produced by different bodies especially where information conflicts.

With the move towards Localism it is really difficult to understand how the centralisation of this function will promote and further this aim, it is also incredibly difficult to understand how Government can continue to back this proposal without serious consideration being given to the implications on the property market of the country as a whole.

The current proposals appear to be putting additional financial burdens on local authorities with them being expected to provide the CON29 responses without being able to recover the costs of providing that service. Nor is there any indication of Local Authorities being able to recover their costs of updating the Local Land Charges Register in respect of their area – if the Land Registry become the registering authority then that responsibility should transfer to them, and they should receive the updates in the raw format direct from source as local authorities do at present, why would local authorities want to receive the information if it is only required for updating the Local Land Charges Register, which would then be the responsibility of Land Registry?

This proposal would appear to be a very expensive hammer to crack a very small nut – if a small minority of authorities are taking over 10 days for responding to searches, money could be better spent assisting those authorities to achieve an acceptable turn round time. Indeed, failing schools, planning authorities and social services where identified have been subject to outside intervention to bring them in line with what is acceptable. The approach that is therefore proposed for Local Land Charges appears to be totally out of line with other areas of service provision within local government.

January 2015

Prepared 13th January 2015