‘A great woman’ Local Land Charges legend passes away 

Tributes have been made to ‘local land legend’ Jan Boothroyd, who passed away on March 1, after a long battle with cancer at the age of 67. 

Jan has been described as ‘exceptionally talented, a figurehead in local government data and ever compassionate’ by her colleagues at Land Data. 

Her achievements during her professional life have been said to steer the searches market and its processes, ultimately impacting home movers themselves with quicker, more streamlined transactions.

Jan has been called a ‘powerhouse in the world of land and property data’, authoring Garner’s Local Land Charges using her vast knowledge of the subject, known by those in the trade as the ‘bible’.

As the UK’s leading LLC expect, she advised Government departments and ministers, became the first President of the Local Land Charges Insitute and was a fierce proponent and campaigner of official, authoritative data which originates directly from and is interpreted by Local Authorities and other providers.  

She was not only renown in the searches community for her encyclopaedic knowledge, but for her compassion and humour – always on hand to support, talk and encourage. She was affectionately known by many as ‘the work mother’ and trained, mentored and coached hundreds of practitioners. 

But it was her leadership of the National Land Information Service (NLIS) roll-out which has most significantly impacted the conveyancing community, and the way searches continue to be conducted.   

Jan’s role at the helm of NLIS was built on a 20-year career in Local Land Charges, working at Westminster City Council, Selby District Council and then Leeds City Council. Here she studied for her MBA and was instrumental in setting up the first professional body for Local Land Charges personnel, the National Association of Local Land Charges Officers, now known as the Local Land Charges Institute (LLCI). In 2000 she became the Association’s inaugural President.  

Here, at the height of her Local Government career, her talent and leadership qualities were spotted by the Improvement & Development Agency (IDeA) (now the Local Government Association) and she was snapped up to lead on the National Land Information Service (NLIS) pilot, part of the Government’s e-transformation programme. NLIS’ mission was, and remains, to provide a ‘single point of electronic access to official sources of land and property information’, including from Local Authorities, HM Land Registry, the Coal Authority and water companies.  

Essentially Jan was responsible for taking a process which was entirely paper-based into the 21st century. 

NLIS was funded by a £2.3 million grant from the Government’s Invest to Save Budget and Jan led its roll out in 2001 to every Local Authority in England and Wales with backing from HM Land Registry, the Improvement & Development Agency (IDeA) for Local Government, Ordnance Survey, Valuation Office Agency, DEFRA and the Cabinet Office. The Local Government Association is still a Land Data shareholder. In 2009 Jan accepted the role of Chief Executive at Land Data, the NLIS regulator, a role she held till 2021. 

Today, NLIS is a local government success story. The NLIS Hub has managed close to 27 million searches and draws down authoritative data directly from over 380 data providers. NLIS is still regulated by Land Data and is the only regulated portal connected electronically to every Local Authority in England and Wales, setting it apart from other property search portals. Approximately 85% of NLIS searches are turned around by Local Authorities within the Government’s target of 10 days or less, and around 40% are returned within 5 days or under. NLIS is open to customers 24/7 and had its own dedicated helpdesk team. 

Jan was an inspirational, motivating and witty person, with an incredible ability to always know how others were feeling. For over 40 years she worked to improve and modernise the way local land searches were managed, bringing speed and more certainty to the market and ultimately helping to smooth the process for home movers. A natural, charismatic leader – her quick wit, sharp sense of humour and unrivalled knowledge, drew everyone to her.

Paying tribute Fiona Barron, Chief Executive at Land Data, said:

“Jan was a true Local Land Charges legend, a great woman, highly respected by so many. She was a force in the Local Government and land and property search communities: bold, compelling, compassionate, with an incredible intellect. I consider myself very fortunate to have worked alongside her for so many years and to have called her a friend.”

Peter Audin, President of the Local Land Charges Institute and Gazetteer & Local Land Charges Manager at City of York Council said:

“I first met Jan nearly 40 years ago. A name within our profession to be respected and revered and yet Jan was the most endearing, quick witted and caring person you could ever wish to meet, I am proud to call her my friend and we spent many happy hours putting the world to rights. I will always treasure the memories I have of Jan and the good times we shared.”

and Diane Latter, Policy Adviser, Property & Conveyancing, The Law Society, said

‘We have lost the doyenne of local land charges – the conscientious, vibrant, funny, self-deprecating soul that was Jan Boothroyd. I worked with Jan for over 20 years in what was a hugely productive and supportive relationship in relation to the importance of authoritative data, the setting up of NLIS, the HMLR local land charges project, the development of local authority searches to support HIPs and generally in relation to the development of Con29 and the related Con29 guidance as well as her editorship of Garner’s Local Land Charges. Her work was important to conveyancers, home buyers and sellers and those engaged in commercial property transactions over very many years’

A great woman who will be missed by many.

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