Data expert Gesche Schmid has seen Land Registry’s plans for Local Land Charges from two contrasting but complementary perspectives.
At the Local Government Association Gesche represented the interests of the 326 English local authorities whose Local Land Charges registers will be replaced by Land Registry’s single digital register by 2023.
Now as Head of Migration at Land Registry she is one of the senior managers of the Local Land Charges programme, bringing to bear her knowledge and expertise from almost 20 years working in the local government and geospatial sectors.
“This is a hugely complex programme to manage and deliver to the standards which Land Registry sets itself and the expectations of the property market and government,” said Gesche, who took up her new post in October.
“I come from a data background in local government and I saw that my understanding of how local authorities work and how they use data could benefit the programme. That’s why I joined.”
Gesche’s two principal responsibilities are ensuring:
- Land Registry and its migration suppliers are ready to digitise and transfer Local Land Charges records from the local authorities into the central digital register
- the local authorities are ready to supply their data for the transfer and, together with other originating authorities, for registering, varying or cancelling charges in the new central register in the future.
The programme is based in several Land Registry locations including Nottingham, Peterborough, Croydon and Plymouth where Gesche works with both Land Registry staff and colleagues from planning and delivery partner PA Consulting.
“We have a great team here,” she said. “It’s a privilege to work with people with such energy, flexibility and willingness to learn.”
Benefits of engagement
Gesche believes the local authorities will soon see the benefits of the relationships being built by Land Registry’s Local Authority Engagement Team.
“I’m very keen to work collaboratively with local authorities to develop our plans and to help and support them where it’s possible and reasonable,” said Gesche, who worked at Medway Council and in the private sector before becoming Programme Manager, Data and Transparency at the Local Government Association (LGA).
“The engagement team are working out a detailed plan so everyone understands their responsibilities during the migration, including the local authorities, Land Registry and the migration suppliers.”
Gesche’s experience of digital transformation programmes includes the INSPIRE infrastructure for spatial information in Europe and the National Address Gazetteer managed by GeoPlace in a joint venture with the LGA and Ordnance Survey.
“Those are very similar programmes to Local Land Charges as they provide consistency to geospatial data so it can be combined into national datasets,” she said.
Gesche’s interest in land and property data goes back even further than her first degree in Geography at Philipps-Universitat Marburg in Germany and her PhD in the same subject at the University of Alberta in Canada.
“My father was an engineer in Hamburg so I grew up with mapping,” she said. “He always talked about the cadastre [the German Land Register] so as a teenager I knew about the registration of land as a principle.”
Apart from buying a home in England herself, Gesche’s first experience of Land Registry was through investigating the digital mapping of land and property deeds at Medway, which involved the documents of three predecessor local authorities.
The Local Land Charges programme is on a vastly bigger scale, merging more than 26 million records into the single register. “This is a critical digital programme whose success would be a major achievement for digital services and for conveyancing and the property market,” said Gesche.
“Local authorities have a very important role to play in that success and should reap benefits from access to consistent digital data at a national scale.”