Land Registry of England and Wales is to press ahead with controversial plans to take over the management of the local land charges register – despite overwhelming opposition in a public consultation. 

Announcing plans for Land Registry to become the sole registering authority for local land charges (LLCs) today, Ed Lester, chief executive, said he had made ‘a number of changes’ in the teeth of opposition.

Of 620 responses to the consultation on the agency taking on ‘wider powers’, 95% of those expressing an opinion opposed the proposal to take on local land charges. 

A statement from the registry today said the change would make it easier to register a property and create a standardised national fee, ending what it called ‘the existing postcode lottery’. At present, local land charges are maintained by 348 local authorities, with search fees varying between £3 and £96 and turnaround times between 1 and 42 days.

Lester (pictured) said the new ‘one-stop shop’ digital LLC search service ‘will improve and standardise the service through faster turnaround times. This is consistent with government’s digital by default agenda and will ease the process of buying property’.

The response announces one concession to critics of original proposals, who included the Law Society. Lester said that the new centralised register would not be limited to land charges going back only 15 years. 

Preparatory work will begin next April on a ‘phased migration’ to the new register. The move will require changes to the Land Registration Act 2002 and Local Land Charges Act 1975, which will be carried out through the Infrastructure Bill announced in the Queen’s speech.  

The full response to the consultation is available here.

The registry's parent body, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, is expected to respond shortly to a consultation on converting the bulk of Land Registry into a 'service delivery company'.