Dorset Council has announced the time taken to complete land charge search requests is back down to 10 working days - leaving Bridport estate agents 'exceptionally pleased'.

Whenever a property or piece of land is sold, purchased, leased or re-mortgaged, a local land charge search is made by the local authority to find out if there are any matters affecting the property.

A year ago the average time to return these searches had risen to 62 days which was holding up the sale of properties and in some cases led to the collapse of some sales.

Last September the council’s delays in dealing with land searches was described as 'just not good enough' – leading to a public apology.

Dorset Council said the delay was caused by a housing market surge and staff vacancies.

It has reassured the public that, over the past 12 months, vacancies have been filled and the process has been restructured to streamline the process and improve efficiency.

Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset Council's portfolio holder for corporate development and transformation, said: "This is an incredible achievement when over the last three years we've received almost double the number of land charge searches that we normally manage and number of requests continue to be high.

"I am grateful for all the hard work that the staff have put in and we continue to work to keep the time that searches take within Government guidelines.

"It is good news for anyone buying or selling their property, which we know can be a stressful time."

Phillipa English, estate agent at Stags in Bridport, said: “We have heard directly from a local solicitor that the search times have been reduced to approximately 10 to 15 working days which will help in facilitating quicker transactions. This will be exceptionally helpful in ensuring agreed sales reach completion.

Phillipa said delays in land charge search requests and a centralising of their systems during the pandemic caused a “log jam of transactions” which created a backlog of work for agents and solicitors.

Phillipa said: “We are exceptionally pleased that this improved timeframe will help our clients move forward and thank Dorset Council.”