Old, unused retail units could soon be turned into residential housing in a bid to help save the high street.

According to thegrocer.co.uk, ministers plan to look into relaxing planning regulations, so housing can be built in place of empty retail units.

This plan comes after retail expert, Mary Portas, conducted a report into the state of the high street 18 months ago. The document aimed to solve problems the high street is suffering from, such as the rise in empty retail units, and hoped to increase the number of small independent businesses.

Now, a report on the progress that Mary Portas and her Portas Pilots team have made has been published. The study highlights the need to make sure empty retail units get some use. Turning these units into housing could increase footfall, bring vibrancy to the area and could even stop a period of decline, the report claims.

Not only would high street housing help improve city centres, it would also ease the housing demand and could even boost estate agency recruitment, it added.

Local growth minister, Mark Prisk, said: “Today’s report sets out the wide range of measures we’ve taken to help communities breathe new life into their town centres. Since coming into government, we’ve lifted planning restrictions to bring empty properties back into use, cut business rates for thousands of small businesses and scrapped the unfair rules around parking charges,” reports guardian.co.uk.