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  1. ITV Report

How healthy is your High Street? Charity ranks town centres by fast food outlets and empty shops

Taunton has the third healthiest town centre in the UK. Credit: ITV West Country

Taunton has one of the healthiest high streets in the country.

It has come third in a survey by the Royal Society for Public Health, (RSPH), which counted bookies, fast food outlets and empty shops as bad and museums, leisure centres and pubs as good.

The charity found people in the top ten town centres - which also include Cheltenham and Exeter - live an average of two-and-a-half years longer than those in the bottom ten.

Grimsby topped the list of the most unhealthy British high streets while Edinburgh was named the healthiest, with Taunton coming third.

The research suggests that too many “unhealthy businesses” such as fast food takeaways, bookmakers and off-licences can significantly shorten the lives of locals.

The RSPH found that residents living in towns with lots of bookies and off-licences die younger than those with plenty of libraries and pharmacies.

The Health on the High Street: Running on Empty" report used a scale giving points for pubs and bars, dentists, opticians, libraries, leisure centres, museums and galleries, pharmacies, coffee shops and vape shops.

Points were deducted for betting shops, payday lenders, fast food outlets, off licences, tanning salons and empty shops.

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The 20 healthiest high streets Taunton is third, Cheltenham fifth and Exeter ninth, while Bath and Bristol just miss out on the top ten

  • Edinburgh
  • Canterbury
  • Taunton
  • Shrewsbury
  • Cheltenham
  • York
  • Brighton & Hove
  • Eastbourne
  • Exeter
  • Cambridge
  • Bath
  • Bristol
  • Leamington Spa
  • Liverpool
  • Salisbury
  • Harrogate
  • Tunbridge Wells
  • Maidstone
  • Carlisle
  • Wakefield

The 20 unhealthiest high streets It is worth noting that no West Country town centres feature

  • Grimsby
  • Walsall
  • Blackpool
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Sunderland
  • Northampton
  • Bolton
  • Wolverhampton
  • Huddersfield
  • Bradford
  • Stockport
  • Coventry
  • Dundee
  • Doncaster
  • Preston
  • Darlington
  • Swansea
  • Middlesbrough
  • Ayr
  • Luton
Bath came 11th on the list - that's up on 15th place in 2015. Credit: ITV West Country

Bath came in at number 11 while in the last survey, published in 2015, it only made number 15. In contrast, Bristol dropped from 10th place to 12th but, they say, methodology changed between the two reports.

Our high streets are always changing and the RSPH is concerned that they are becoming more unhealthy over time. It has found that 4,000 new fast food outlets have opened across the UK in the past five years – predominantly in poorer areas. It says deprived areas now have five times more fast food shops than wealthy neighbourhoods.

The number of empty shops on the high street has increased from below 7% in 2007 to 11% in 2017.

It will be interesting to see if these trends continue...

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