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  1. ITV Report

'Empty' North West high streets advised to break dependence on shops

There are warnings that high streets in the North West must become less reliant on shops in order to thrive in the future.

This is according to a report published today by the think tank Centre for Cities - which found that three of the ten worst spots for empty retail units were in the region.

Blackpool, Wigan and Birkenhead all made the list.

Should High Streets stop trying to force a shopping-focussed space? Credit: ITV News

The report's findings are that centres across England and Wales are over-dependent on retail, and should swap shops for offices, housing and public spaces.

1/4
of shops in Blackpool are vacant
The new report recommends towns swap shops for offices, housing and public spaces. Credit: ITV News

The Think Tank also recommends that areas struggling in the retail sector focus on making their city centres better places to live, work and play in.

Unused shops re-purposed for amenities, housing, public space or parkland, "will create a more attractive space for people to spend time or live in - which in turn will create more footfall for retail, restaurants and cafes."

Each day seems to bring a new crisis for the high street, but the answer is not to double down on the declining retail sector. Instead, we need to reimagine struggling city centres as places where lots of different businesses can locate and create jobs - and where lots of people want to go to for a variety of reasons.

– Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities
The think tank recommends that empty units be used more creatively. Credit: ITV News

Commenting on these findings, Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said:

"Of course, repurposing high streets for other uses can be a difficult and costly process, and some cities will need investment from Government to support that transition. But it will be crucial in transforming the fortunes of our city centres, and the prospects of people living or working in them."