Momentum is building towards a legal challenge to Land Registry’s plan to centralise the local land charges register, the property search association’s trade association claimed today.

The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) said that local council chief executives have mooted a possible challenge to the plan, which they say would damage the register and add an extra layer of bureaucracy. 

A meeting organised by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Land Registry revealed ‘absolutely no support’ for the proposals, CoPSO said.

The proposal appears in a Land Registry consultation which closed in March.

A separate consultation, by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, on privatising the bulk of Land Registry, made national newspaper headlines this week when leaked minutes suggested that the agency was pre-empting the outcome.  

CoPSO’s chairman, James Sherwood-Rogers, said he suspected that centralising land charges was part of a ‘pre-meditated process of fattening up’ the registry before privatisation. ‘No local authority actively supports the proposals, which some actually view as dangerous,’ he said. 

Critics point out that, under Land Registry’s plans staff local authorities will still need to input the local data, adding an additional layer to the process, for which they will not be paid.

The Law Society and CoPSO pointed out that the plan to digitise land charges entries going back only 15 years will miss vital information. ‘This will put listed buildings and protected trees at risk if the information is not immediately available,’ CoPSO said. 

Meanwhile, staff at Land Registry plan to strike on 14 and 15 May in protest against the privatisation plan. 

The PCS union said maintaining Land Registry in public ownership would not only keep it free from conflicts of interest, it could provide an added public service in helping to deal with the housing crisis through regulation of land use and setting up a register of landlords.