NEWPORT city centre has the highest percentage of empty shops of all cities in England and Wales, with over a quarter of all shops unoccupied according to a report.

The report, from think tank Centre for Cities, said city centres should move away from their reliance on retail space, and replace shops with offices and housing.

Stats show Newport city centre is made up of 54 percent retail space, where 28 percent of the shops are vacant.

Centre for Cities' report found that in "successful" city centres, of which Cardiff was categorised as, high quality offices make up almost two-thirds of the commercial space.

In Bristol and Manchester, also examples of "successful", retail makes up about 18% of overall commercial space, and performs well because the large footfall provided by office workers for the retail industry.

Blackpool, Bradford, Wigan and Sheffield made up list of top five cities with the most high street retail vacancies.

Cambridge topped the list for the least amount of vacant retail lots, coming in at eight percent of city centre shops standing empty.

Brighton, Exeter, London and Worthing completed the top five cities in England and Wales with the least high street retail vacancies.

The report defines "poorly performing city centres" as cities where offices account for less than a quarter of commercial space, which is usually of poorer quality than other cities.

Newport was classed by the report as a struggling city centre, defined as those which have a lower than average share of jobs in high-productivity exporting firms, of which lower than average share of these are high-skilled.

But plans to add high quality office space into the city centre have been tabled, with the Chartist Tower project aiming for 30,000 sq ft of new grade A office space and a 163-bedroom Mecure Hotel, subject to planning.

Responding to the report, councillor Debbie Wilcox, leader of Newport City Council, said: “As a council we agree with the key messages of this report – in order to have a successful city centre we need to have a broad range of offerings and attract many groups of people, not just shoppers. Our plans and strategies, including the city centre masterplan, absolutely reflect this and the need for a vibrant mix of residential, retail and office space.

"We are already seeing changes on our high street and there are plans for many more developments.

“With partners and private investors, we are developing several areas of city centre living including the former Kings Hotel, Griffin Island, Upper Dock Street, Olympia House and the former Hornblower public house.

“We are also encouraging more high quality office space into the city centre such as the plans to develop the prominent Chartist Tower into offices and a four-star hotel, and the conversion of the former Royal Mail sorting office into new offices.

"We’ve already seen the success of Queensway-based Admiral with more than 800 employees now working in the heart of our city.

“The value of public open space is very much recognised in our plans. The redevelopment of St Pauls Walk into a pleasant landscaped pedestrian route was recently completed and that space is also now being used for public events.

"Planning permission has also been granted to demolish a block of retail units and create public space on Commercial Street at the entrance to the Kingsway Centre.

“The University of South Wales also have a prominent city centre presence and there are proposals by Cardiff University to locate the National Software Academy in Newport City Centre.

"There are also aspirations to develop a Newport Knowledge Quarter and work in partnership with the University of South Wales and Coleg Gwent.

“The WRU has also revealed plans to improve and regenerate parts of the Rodney Parade site and this is all incredibly positive for Newport.

“It is the delivery of such catalytic projects that will enhance the city centre business environment, increase the number of qualified university and college graduates, increase the number of SMEs, particularly in the digital, creative and hospitality sectors, and significantly increase the number of visitors and our overall footfall.”

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “We need to reimagine struggling city centres as places where lots of different businesses can locate and create jobs – and where lots of people want to go to for a variety of reasons.

“This means reducing the reliance on shops, and focusing on creating a more attractive environment for a wider range of firms. We also need to make our high streets more open and appealing spaces for people to spend time or live in, by improving public realm and transport links, and potentially introducing more housing.”