Land Registry releases one month of Price Paid information as open data — and tries to hide the licensing costs of the full dataset
The Land Registry has today published its latest Price Paid information on residential property sales in England and Wales. For the first time this data has been released under the Open Government Licence, as ‘open data’. This means it can be re-used by the public and third-party developers both for personal and commercial purposes.
Unfortunately this open data release contains only a month’s worth of additions and amendments to the Price Paid information dataset. (The release contains data for February 2012, rather than January 2012 as previously expected.) The main dataset, which contains more than 17 million records of house transfers going back to 1995, remains closed and available only on commercial terms.
Details of charging policy removed
The licence cost for the whole dataset is more than £50,000, which makes it affordable only for big businesses. The Price Paid information is gathered by Land Registry under statutory authority as part of its public task.
Until today the licensing costs for chargeable Price Paid information were published on the Land Registry’s website at the link above as follows:
Subscription – We license the data for an annual subscription plus a charge for each address bought.
- Annual subscription is £2,200 plus VAT
- £0.008775 plus VAT per address update supplied, for each product that incorporates the data (with a minimum payment of £100).
Ad hoc purchases – For customers who want to make ad hoc purchases we charge for the data you want to reuse on the basis of £0.0117 per address you take.
This morning those details were removed from the website. It’s possible that means the charging policy is under review. More likely Land Registry knows its charging policy is unreasonable and doesn’t want too much scrutiny. So much for transparency.
When the open data release of Price Paid information was originally announced in the Autumn Statement, it initially appeared that the Cabinet Office had decided to release the whole dataset.
This seemed to make a lot of sense. The Land Registry’s Price Paid information is arguably one of the nation’s core reference datasets. Open data release of the Price Paid dataset would produce measurable economic benefits by reducing the input costs for existing licensees in the property and conveyancing sectors and, more importantly, by removing a barrier to entry for innovative small and medium sized businesses that cannot currently afford to access the data in bulk.
By comparison, open data release of only the newest Price Paid information is unlikely to generate significant economic benefits. The main effect will be to make the addresses of new homeowners readily available to direct marketers.
Earlier this month I wrote a longer blog post on this subject.