Buried in the announcements for reform of the planning system is a proposal for making data on land contracts available to public scrutiny. The suggestion is that a copy of most land options, pre-emption agreements and conditional contracts should be produced to the Land Registry (HMLR), along with additional information. HMLR will extract some data from the contracts etc for separate publication, but full copies of all documents noted at HMLR are available to anyone who applies, on payment of a small fee. Whilst the Government's intention is to discover and publish who has contractual control of land suitable for development, the measures as proposed would apply to a wide range of real estate contracts. Many transactions would incur additional compliance costs, increasing further if the parties wish to keep specific terms of the contract confidential by exempting them from the public Land Register.
Developers and other real estate players may find it worthwhile to review and perhaps respond to the consultation before the closing date of 30 October: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/transparency-and-competition-a-call-for-evidence-on-data-on-land-control
a call for evidence to seek views on proposals to help councils and local communities better understand who controls land in their area and to assist SME and new entrants to the housing market identity land suitable for development