The proportion of shops that are vacant in Britain’s high streets reached now one in seven in the first six months of the year, with the vacancy rate rising in every region except London. That’s according to new research from the Local Data Company (LDC), which found that the north west was the worst affected region, with one in five stores unoccupied. Nottingham was the large town centre with the highest vacancy rate, at 30.6%, followed by Walsall (29.6%), Stockport (28.4%), Grimsby (27.4%) and Middlesbrough (26.7%). Salisbury had the lowest vacancy rate, at 7.7%. Large retail centres had a vacancy rate of 16.2%, while for small cetres the proportion was 10.6%. The figures come as the Government looks to loosen planning regulations to make it easier to convert vacant stores for residential use.