Last week the Land Registry published a blog post about possible future uses of satellite imagery by real estate lawyers. It seems that there is (or soon will be) a bank of historic satellite imagery which could assist us in situations where we want to know about the past uses of a site.
I can imagine how this will be useful for rights of light surveyors who often rely on old photographs to establish the existence of apertures in buildings. Or for supporting adverse possession claims in relation to boundaries. And perhaps, as the blog suggests, for evidence to establish prescriptive rights, such as rights of way or other easements.
In the past we have often been reliant on finding a long-standing employee of the company occupying the land to swear a statutory declaration about the use of the property going back 10, 12 or 20 years, depending on whether we are trying to establish ownership or an easement. If we had access to a definitive database of images showing how land has been used in the past, this would be a big help.
I now look at Google maps and the satellite images it provides as a matter of course when dealing with a new property. Getting access to historic images seems like a logical next step.
When PropTech met SpaceTech: a marriage made in heaven? Historic satellite imagery has a role to play here. It is an asset of depreciating value to the satellite operator. Yet it becomes increasingly useful to the real estate lawyer looking for a snapshot of the property in the past.