The council will receive £1.1m from the Government's Local Authority Modernisation Programme (Lamp), which was launched by e-commerce minister Douglas Alexander last week. Lamp has more than £200m of funds available to help local authorities modernise their land and property searches and link to the National Land Information Service (NLIS).
Slough Borough Council receives more than 4,000 property search applications a year from solicitors. Each application currently takes an average of 10 days to process. The Lamp funding will allow it to implement a system that will let it conduct property searches within hours through the NLIS.
NLIS, a joint venture by the Land Registry and the Improvement and Development Agency (IDA), was set up last year to provide integrated information on land and property in England and Wales.
The service allows solicitors to submit pay-as-you-go requests to NLIS through channels provided by private companies. These then pass on requests to the NLIS hub, run by MacDonald Dettwiler Associates, which forwards the information to the relevant agency, such as the Land Registry or local authority, before passing a response back to the customer via the same channel.
The system will use the recently created National Land and Property Gazetteer England and Wales as its property index. This could help to end gazumping in the property market, according to the Local Government Information House, a subsidiary of the IDA.