Blog by Sheenagh Adams, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland.
It has been a busy month of milestones and landmarks at Registers of Scotland. We began by adding the iconic Register House, on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, to the Land Register of Scotland. It was a historic day for both organisations with the registration of the historic building making National Records of Scotland the first public body to add all of its property to the digital, map-based land register.
For the historians among us, it might be of interest to know that General Register House is one of the oldest custom-built archive buildings still in use in the world, commissioned after it was recognised that Scotland’s archives needed a “proper repository” in the mid-18th century, and opened to the public in 1789. Today, National Records of Scotland, holds information spanning the 12th to the 21st centuries, touching on virtually every aspect of Scottish life.
The next milestone we were delighted to announce was adding the 3000th croft to the crofting register . There are just over 18,000 crofts in Scotland, so we’re already a sixth of the way to completing the job. What struck me as particularly impressive about this achievement was the fact that we have gone from 1,000 croft registrations to the 3,000-mark in under two years. Fergus Ewing MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, was pleased, too, describing the news as “another significant milestone in establishing the full extent of croft land”.
Not so much a landmark but a regular aspect of our work here at RoS was the release of the latest UK House Price Index (UK HPI) figures, which always prove to be of great interest to large swathes of the general public and the media. For the record, the average price of a property in Scotland in July 2016 was £143,711 – an increase of 3.4 per cent on the previous year and an increase of 1.3 per cent when compared to the previous month.
Back on the theme of milestones, the publication of our 2015-16 annual report and accounts, revealed how we continue to surpass targets and increase efficiencies. There were highlights aplenty, but I was pleased to report that we placed more than 600,000 applications on to our registers in 2015-16 – an increase of a third compared to the previous year – and we were able to turn around three-quarters of land register applications within 20 days. RoS has also once again substantially improved its green credentials, with consumption for electricity and water decreasing.
Finally, following advice from us, Scottish ministers have once again decided to freeze the fees that we charge for our services. This maintains the level at the same rate as it was more than five-and-a-half years ago (January 2011), and will provide a welcome boost for the Scottish economy and home-buyers alike during these uncertain post Brexit – times. The 25 per cent discount for voluntary registration will remain in place until at least 31 March 2019 – another piece of good news.