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Comprehensive land registration: 2025 target set for the public sector

9 October 2019

This article is taken from October's public matters newsletter. Click here to view more articles from this issue.


87% of the ownership of land in England and Wales is registered at HM Land Registry. 

The Land Registry is now aiming to close the 13% gap, and secure the full registration of all freehold land in England and Wales by 2030. A significant part of its strategy focuses on the first registration of all currently unregistered land owned by local authorities and other public bodies, which the Land Registry is seeking to achieve by 2025. 

There is a particular drive to register publicly owned land in areas identified as having the highest housing need, in order to boost residential development. The target date for comprehensive registration in these areas has been set earlier, to 2020. 

Why should public bodies apply for the first registration of their land?

The full registration of land ownership in accordance with the Land Registry’s initiative will enable public body landowners to enjoy the following key benefits:

  • Protection provided by the Land Registry. A registered title reduces a landowner’s exposure to third party claims, such as adverse possession, which the Land Registry is required to notify registered landowners of.
  • Simplification of land transactions. Instead of having to trace back through old deeds that can be lost or destroyed over the years, a registered title will comprise sufficient proof of ownership – making the deduction of title a quicker, cheaper exercise.
  • Assistance with asset management. The Land Registry’s online database provides a transparent and secure record of land ownership in your area. 

How do I register my land?

If you are a public body, you can either apply directly to HM Land Registry to register your land, or you can instruct a solicitor (or a conveyancer) to investigate your title and make an application on your behalf. The Land Registry’s fees for first registration depend on the value of the land that is being registered; although there is a 25% discount on voluntarily made applications.

More guidance on the first registration process is available here. 

In light of its targets to achieve a comprehensive registration record in the coming years, the Land Registry has set up a Public Sector Engagement Team. The team is specifically designed to help public bodies identify their unregistered land, and to get it registered as efficiently as possible. You can contact them on 0300 006 2722 or at: PublicSectorEngagementTeam@landregistry.gov.uk 

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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