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With all of the recent drama surrounding Mary Portas and Bill Grimsey, you would think the entire existence of the high street is at stake. However, the truth is a bit less apocalyptic – the high streets may stagnate, but they won’t disappear. At worst case scenario, the high street will become a haven for bargain hunters, with charity shops and pound stores making up the majority of retail. Orpington High Street, for example, now has 12 charity shops in one short stretch. But, if they are what the customers want, maybe it’s not so bad.

One area that is leading the way for growing high streets is Leigh Park, in Hampshire. Only two years ago, it topped the charts of Britain’s worst “ghost towns” with 36.4% of shops on the high street vacant. However, since then, sixteen new shops have been opened, and a further four will be officially opened on October 1st. Both Mary Portas and Bill Grimsey have been invited to this event, to see for themselves how a high street can...

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