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Lawbite: Levelling-up land control

  • United Kingdom
  • Real estate
  • Real estate development and regeneration
  • Real estate planning
  • Public

22-08-2022

Following on from the Government’s 2020 consultation, “Transparency and competition: a call for evidence on data on land control”, Part 9 of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill could have significant implications for property developers. 

In the consultation paper, the Government identified what it termed “two significant dis-benefits to the public” of a market failure resulting from a lack of transparency in this area. These were that local communities were without information allowing them to predict likely development in their areas and that the lack of transparency prevents small builders and new developers from breaking into the market.

But how will Part 9 of the Bill turn these “dis-benefits” into “un-detriments”? 

If the legislation makes it onto the statute book as it is, the Government would be able to oblige owners, promotors and developers to provide information on their contractual arrangements including details such as the parties, who benefits from the transaction, the source of any consideration given and, more concerningly, details of the terms of any deal and copies of the contractual documents.

The last two categories of transactional information will be of particular concern to developers undertaking land assembly exercises who are keen to retain an element of commercial confidentiality. The Government has indicated that it would retain current Land Registry arrangements in relation to the redaction of “prejudicial information”, but how this will work with the new regime will be a point of much interest.

The Bill proposes that different tools would be available to the Government to ensure that parties comply with their obligations under the legislation. These range from new statutory offences to the ability of the Land Registry to refuse to register certain types of interest where a party has failed to comply.

Key points

  • The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill proposes new disclosure obligations on parties to land options, pre-emptions and conditional contracts
  • Failure to comply with the obligations would result in the commission of offences and the inability to register relevant interests at the Land Registry
  • Developers will have to consider alternative ways of structuring and coordinating transactions to work within the new rules

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