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Evening Standard: "Turning retail into residential would be a High Street winner"

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"Britain is becoming a nation of empty shops. Even in London, the UK’s beacon of prosperity, one in 11 stands empty. Out of London, in the less prosperous areas round Manchester or in the North-East, the figure is more like one in five.

"A large number of the buildings that still have tenants may no longer be shops as we like to think of them, but are more likely to be bookmakers, payday lenders, tattoo parlours and, of course, charity outlets. And that is the good news. Go to small towns in depressed areas — euphemistically known as tertiary locations — and it is quite possible to find a High Street where half the shops are boarded up.

"Some may still think this is a temporary phenomenon that economic recovery will cure, but the reality is that Britain has too many shops, and High Streets will have to shrink to a much smaller core if any part is to survive. Christmas underlined the popularity of online shopping, and that trend still has a long way to go."

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