The current fragmented nature of land and property information holdings and its susceptibility to duplication perpetuates inefficiency, hinders clarity and ultimately serves to constrain or prevent the introduction of new and more innovative ways of managing and using property in response to the priorities of society.
Unifi Scotland recognises that land and property information underpins many varied activities and agendas, and believes that alignment with its three fundamental objectives (Satisfying the Citizen, Improving Efficiency and Supporting Economic Growth) can best be achieved through consideration of three areas of primary focus:
- Improved and smarter utilisation of property address referencing – in order to leverage resolution of current inadequacies and failings by enabling interconnect of otherwise disparate information holdings.
- Enabling more expedient property transactions – in the interest of better serving the citizen and enabling government efficiency.
- Clarifying the full extent of Scotland’s ‘civil estate’ – so as to ensure that the land and property owned or occupied by Scotland’s different public agencies is managed to its optimum potential in accordance with public interest.
Scotland’s thirty two local authorities have made a considerable investment in creating a series of local address gazetteers that are now being amalgamated into a single National Gazetteer for the entirety of Scotland. The Registers of Scotland and the Scottish Assessors have also made similar complementary investments. Unifi believes that it is important there is recognition as to how potential synergies between these investments can become benefits that are clearly tangible to the citizen.
Unifi Scotland believes that transaction expediency can be achieved through enabling an ability to conveniently collate and reconcile all legally enforceable judgements, commitments and decisions pertaining to a clearly identifiable property and its immediate neighbours in combination with a degree of simplification of involved processes.
Unifi recognises that the investment, effort and willingness required to do so calls for an ability to account for current costs in terms of the cost overhead of a property to the whole of government rather than in terms of discrete functional costs as at present.
It is not known precisely what proportion of Scotland’s property base is either owned or occupied by a government function or interest. At any one time, such property may either be in operational use, earning income as an investment or considered to be surplus to requirements. That which is deemed to be surplus will be subject to ultimate disposal.
Unifi believes that effective management and optimum utilisation of Scotland’s ‘civil estate’ demands knowledge of its full extent rather than merely that which pertains to a particular agency or department. Such knowledge would serve to ensure that the civil estate is best able to meet the needs and priorities of both citizens and the third sector.