The government has started a consultation on changing the systems used by HM Land Registry to "bring it into the digital age" and to support big data initiatives.
Land Registry is responsible for keeping and maintaining details of the ownership of land and property in England and Wales. The government is proposing splitting the Land Registry in two by forming a new company to take on service delivery functions.
The government believes that changing Land Registry’s commercial model, by separating policy and delivery of services between two entities, "could have a number of benefits and enable it to move more successfully into the digital age".
The proposal is to create a new company - still subject to government oversight - which would be responsible for delivering land registration services. A separate Office of the Chief Land Registrar would be retained in government to carry out regulatory and fee-setting functions.
"This model could allow a greater focus on service delivery, greater operational flexibility around pay and recruitment, and provide other services along with a more clearly defined relationship with government," the government said.
Land Registry is planning to make more land registration services available online, which should "reduce processing times, the risk of error and the costs of registration", it said.
It is also aiming to deliver more efficient services, including creating a centralised access point for local land charge searches, and to maximise the reuse of property data for the benefit of the economy as part of the government's open data strategy.
Business minister Michael Fallon said: "Giving Land Registry more flexibility to operate in the modern world will enable it to become a leader in digitising land and property services and support economic growth in the wider economy. We welcome views from all interested stakeholders to help us shape the future of land registration services."
Chief land registrar and chief executive of Land Registry Ed Lester said: "No decision on ownership and control of this new service delivery company has been made, and several options are being considered.
"The government will ensure that Land Registry customers and the integrity of the register will continue to be protected following the outcome of the consultation."
The consultation will run for eight weeks and will close on 20 March 2014.
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