Practice Guide 41 – Developing estates – registration services
Updated: August 2010
This edition of the guide replaces the March 2003 edition. Only minor grammatical and cosmetic amendments have been made to the guide.
Scope of this guide
This guide gives an overview of relevant Land Registry services to those involved in the registration of developing estates. We have aimed the guide at developers, purchasers, their legal advisers and surveyors and you should interpret references to ‘you’ accordingly. This guide also shows how early resolution of boundary problems can improve cost effectiveness and reduce delays.
1 The services we provide
Land Registry provides the following services:
Estate boundary approval (See supplements 1 and 5).
Estate plan approval (See supplements 2 and 5).
Approval of draft transfers and leases (See Supplement 3).
Plot sales – transfers and leases (See Supplement 4).
Used together, these services ensure any registration problems will be resolved at the earliest possible stage.
2 What benefits do these services offer?
Land Registry services are there to help development companies and Land Registry reduce costs. We do this by simplifying the processes from initial registration of the site, through pre-sales services to plot sales. The documentation required is simple and there are no fees to pay for these services.
Although we have designed our services to complement each other, you can use each service independently. Developers can gain most benefit simply by ensuring that they use each of these services as effectively as possible.
We are always happy to consider any special circumstances that might apply to a particular development and discuss the best way forward.
We have provided our contact points in the supplements to this guide.
3 What are Land Registry’s service standards?
give approval within five working days where the matter is straightforward
contact the applicant within five days where problems arise
supply information which will be guaranteed as accurate.
The supporting supplements 1 to 5 give details of:
what each service provides, and
how to apply for approval.
4 How can I get the best out of these services?
That depends on the part you play in the development company. This part of the guide sets out to answer that question whatever your role.
4.1 If you are the developer’s legal adviser
You have a pivotal role to play in the liaison between all the other parties. To make all the registration services described in this guide work smoothly and cost effectively; there are three main areas to consider:
First, making the following timely applications:
for the registration of the developer’s estate
for the estate boundary approval
for the estate plan approval
for the approval of the draft transfers or leases
for official copy entries of the developer’s title, and
voluntary registration of any known overriding interests (see Supplement 6 to this practice guide).
Second, ensuring that the plans submitted for approval meet the following broad specifications. The plans must:
show a scale, preferably no less than 1/500, and orientation
be based on an accurate land survey
show any measurements in metric form
show enough detail for the site to be related to the surrounding boundary features
clearly define and number the precise extent of each plot. Particular care should be taken when showing garages and parking spaces included with the plots
show buildings and any access drives and pathways in their correct positions, and
indicate those areas that will remain as common parts.
NB: Plans marked ‘For identification only’, ‘Do not scale from this drawing’ or any similar phrase are not acceptable. Plans, which bear a statement of disclaimer intended to comply with the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991, are similarly not acceptable.
The third area of activity relates to the purchasers’ legal advisers. In particular you should:
provide them with the relevant documents (transfers or leases), based on the approved drafts and containing copies of the approved plans, and
inform them immediately of any change to the approved layout plan and seek all necessary agreements for the change, particularly where contracts have already been signed.
4.2 If you are the developer’s land surveyor
It will be your responsibility to provide the initial survey of the site. The site survey usually forms the basis of the estate boundary and layout plans. You are also in a good position to:
monitor the site development, recording any changes to the original layout and informing the developer’s legal adviser of those changes;
provide ‘as built’ plans at the various development stages, and
provide, where necessary, survey markers for fencing purposes.
NB: The detailed requirements for estate plans and surveying specifications are set out in Supplement 5 to this practice guide.
4.3 If you are the developer’s site manager
The site manager can ensure that the contractors set out and build the estate in accordance with the approved layout.
Sometimes, for practical reasons, contractors deviate from the approved layout. The site manager is usually in a good position to, and must immediately, notify the developer, the legal adviser, the surveyor and Land Registry of any deviation from the original plan. If they fail to do this, the problems outlined below may arise.
5 What are the problems when layout changes take place?
You sometimes need to make layout changes and our services can accommodate these changes.
However, experience shows that late changes in layout can result in disputes between developer and buyer. Such disputes can cause delay and frustration and may involve the payment of costs and compensation. In extreme cases, you may need to reposition plot boundaries and you may even need to move buildings.
If we find out during the registration process that you have amended the layout without informing us we will withdraw approval of the estate plan. We will also inform any affected purchasers who have pending applications in Land Registry and those who subsequently apply for searches or lodge applications.
Whenever you detect any change to the layout, it is vital that you immediately inform all the parties involved, including Land Registry.
6 What if layout changes are made before any plot sales?
You should return the original approved layout plan to Land Registry as soon as possible with two copies of the revised layout plan clearly showing the changes.
Where there is no sales activity on that part of the development and the new layout agrees with the registered title boundaries, we will give fresh approval without delay.
7 What if there has been sales activity on that part of the development?
You should advise Land Registry of any layout change immediately so that we can withdraw approval of the estate plan. You should also inform affected purchasers or prospective purchasers and their advisers.
If prospective purchasers have made searches based on the superseded plan we will not be able to approve a revised plan until either you produce their written agreement to the changes so far as they affect, or the priority period of all searches has expired.
You should also tell us whether you have exchanged contracts or completed the sales of any affected plots. If you have, but the sales have not yet been registered, you will need to agree and amend the contracts, transfers or leases as necessary. The parties and their legal advisers must satisfy themselves that any such amendments are legally effective.
If you have already registered the sales, you will need to agree the layout changes with the affected purchasers and any registered chargees. In order to bring the registered titles into line with the position on the ground the parties may need to prepare and execute additional transfers or deeds of variation or rectification.
Details of the appropriate deed to use are covered by Practice Guide 68 – Amending deeds that effect dispositions of registered land – 5 Where the original deed has been registered.
NB: Where purchasers are not prepared to accept the new layout plans you may need to reposition the construction on the site to accord with the former proposed layout.
8 Enquiries and comments
This practice guide and its supplements can only give a general guide to registration services on developing estates. If you have any particular query that this guide has not covered, please contact your local Land Registry office. You should direct queries relating to estate boundary approval or estate plan approval and queries that relate to approving draft transfers and leases of plot sales to your local Land Registry office.
Practice Guide 51 – Areas Served by Land Registry Offices is available free of charge from Customer Support, see (Contact details) and gives a full list of areas served by each Land Registry office. You can also find this information on our website at www.landregistry.gov.uk
If you have any comments or suggestions about our guides, please send them to:
Central Operations Group
1 Bedford Park
(DX 8888 Croydon 3).
You can obtain further copies of this and of all our guides free of charge from Customer Support (see Contact details) or you can download them from our website.
Land Registry advisory policy
We offer advice to our customers through our publications and Customer Support information and through the day-to-day handling of applications.
We provide factual information including official copies of registers, title plans and documents, searches and details of our forms and fees.
We provide procedural advice to explain how the land registration system works and how to make applications correctly. This includes:
- advice in advance of an application, where this is requested
- where an application is defective, advice as to the nature of the problem and what options, if any, are available to put it right
- an approval service for estate layout plans and certain other land registration documents.
There are limits to the advice that we will provide. We will not provide legal advice.
This means that:
- we will not approve the evidence to be produced in support of a registration application before we receive the application
- apart from procedural advice, we will not advise on what action to take
- we will not recommend a professional adviser but can explain how to find one.
We provide advice only about real cases, not about theoretical circumstances. We will not express a view on questions where the law is complex or unclear except where the question arises on a live registration application.
In providing this factual information and procedural advice we will:
- be impartial
- recognise that others may be affected by what we say
- avoid any conflict of interest.
For customer enquiries and to request this publication in an alternative format please contact Customer Support at email@example.com or telephone 0844 892 1111, or 0844 892 1122 for a Welsh-speaking service, from Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm. Calls cost 3p a minute on a BT standard tariff, in addition to the current set up/connection charge. Calls from other tariffs, service providers and mobile phones may cost more. We do not receive any revenue from these calls.
To obtain copies of this and all our other guides, free of charge:
- view/download guides in English and Welsh at www.landregistry.gov.uk
- contact Customer Support.
Information in this guide
The information in this publication is for the purpose of providing general guidance about Land Registry's procedures and policies. It is intended only as a guide and does not cover every situation that may arise. It also does not limit Land Registry's ability to use its discretion when appropriate to do so, within the land registration legislation.
Chief Land Registrar
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