Government consults on more transparent picture of controls on land

In a previous article, we explained Part 11 of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023. This seeks to promote land transparency in England and Wales by requiring the disclosure of information about land which is useful for understanding contractual rights which arise under a contract, relate to development and are held for the purposes of an undertaking (business, charity or public purpose). Secondary legislation will implement these provisions and the government has now published a consultation which includes draft regulations.

The provisions

The aim of the provisions is wider transparency in terms of disclosure of the key provisions in documents that prevent the owner of the land from dealing with it. The information disclosed will be published in a Land Registry dataset. The types of agreements covered are options, conditional agreements and pre-emptions or other contracts preventing dispositions (which could include promotion agreements). The information which must be disclosed is:

  • Party names and registered numbers.
  • Type of contractual control agreement.
  • Date of agreement.
  • Date of determination and whether it can be extended.
  • Title number of land affected (and details if part only).
  • SRA number of submitting solicitor (not published).

The obligation to disclose will be on the grantee who must use a conveyancer to submit the required information to the Land Registry (unless they apply for an exemption). Some agreements would be outside the scope of the registration requirement such as contracts lasting less than 12 months which cannot be extended, designated exempt contracts (the draft regulations suggest those specified for the purpose of national security or to facilitate finance or a loan) and those entered before 6 April 2021.

The consultation proposes the regulations commence on 6 April 2026. Grantees of any agreement after that date would have 60 days to register the required information (and 60 days to register any update to that information following assignment, variation, termination, or expiry). Grantees of any agreement entered between 6 April 2021 and the date of commencement would have one year from commencement to register the required information for those agreements (and, following registration, 60 days to register any update to that information following assignment, variation, termination or expiry). Under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023, failure to comply and providing false or misleading information knowingly or recklessly will be a criminal offence.

What's next?

The consultation closes on 20 March 2024 and the consultation page details how to respond.

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