'Disappointing but not surprising': Life expectancy in Northampton drops as high street named among unhealthiest in UK, according to new report

Northampton has been ranked in the top ten for the most unhealthy high street.
Northampton has been ranked in the top ten for the most unhealthy high street.

The average life expectancy for people living in Northampton is two and a half years less than those living in the healthiest of UK towns, a report published today reveals.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has today published a league table ranking 70 of Britain’s major towns and cities by the impact of their high streets on the public’s health and well being.

Northampton was ranked as number six in the 'unhealthiest' British high street league table, which was topped by Grimsby and followed by Walsall and Blackpool. Edinburgh, Canterbury and Taunton were rated as having the healthiest outlets.

Councillor Danielle Stone (Castle, Labour Group Leader) said: “This is so disappointing, but not surprising.

"Even our nighttime economy venues of restaurants and bars could not lift us off the list. You only have to walk round the town to see where this survey is accurate.

"We have been arguing continuously for improvements and vision to make the town a place where people want to come and enjoy the shopping experience and have a healthier place to live."

Data was taken from more than one shopping street in Northampton, the Royal Society for Public Health today confirmed, but they did not disclose which specific streets were surveyed.

Changes to British high streets that have influenced the rankings include a growth in the number of fast food shops, the number of vape shops and the shop vacancy rates.

There has been a growth in the number of fast food shops by 4,000 between 2014 and 2017, especially in the most deprived areas, which now have five times more fast food shops than the most affluent areas.

The number of vape shops has doubled from 1,000 to 2,000 in the past three years.

This ranking excludes London high streets, which have been ranked separately.

The league table features in the new RSPH report, 'Health on the High Street: Running on empty', which follows on from the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of a package of measures designed to reinvigorate the nation’s high streets.

Now, the average life expectancy for people living in areas with the top 10 healthiest high streets is two and a half years longer than for those in the 10 unhealthiest ranked areas.

RSPH is now calling for a range of measures to make British high streets more health-promoting, including councils to make records to support ‘meanwhile use’ of vacant shops to keep high streets vibrant.

Recommendations for putting health at the heart of planning include considering how close fast-food shops are next to schools and councils to set differential rent classes for tenants based on how health-promoting their business offer is.

The report noted that library services, good pubs, leisure centres and health clubs heighten social interaction in an area.

Northampton BID have been approached for comment.

The top 10 “unhealthiest” British high streets were ranked as:

1. Grimsby

2. Walsall

3. Blackpool

4. Stoke-On-Trent

5. Sunderland

6. Northampton

7. Bolton

8. Wolverhampton

9. Huddersfield

10. Bradford

The top 10 “healthiest” British high streets were ranked as:

1. Edinburgh

2. Canterbury

3. Taunton

4. Shrewsbury

5. Cheltenham

6. York

7. Brighton & Hove

8. Eastbourne

9. Exeter

10. Cambridge