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Planning applications for new shops have fallen for the ninth year in a row as the high street continues to struggle, according to a report by major lending platform Lendy.

New research by the company shows the number of planning applications for new shops and shopping centres in England fell 8% in 2017 to 6,090.

That figure was down 55% since the credit crunch in 2008, when the figure stood at 13,500.

Lendy said that as retail spend continued to shift from the high street to the internet, retail vacancy rates rose to more than 12%, with many retailers putting new store openings on hold or closing underperforming outlets.

Lendy said falling consumer spending and Brexit uncertainties could also be forcing retailers to delay decisions on store openings.

The report said 118 retail businesses went insolvent in 2017, a 28% rise on the previous year.

Debenhams was forced to issue a profit warning following poor Christmas sales, and House of Fraser has issued an appeal for landlords to slash rents.

Lendy said while retail property still represented a sound choice for property investors, those considering it must to do so with care.

“Investors in shops and shopping centres had been used to rents only ever going up, safe in the knowledge that any vacancies could be filled by one of a number of expansion-minded retailers,” said Lendy co-founder Liam Brooke. “The recession and the boost to e-commerce from smartphones ended all that.”

“Falling planning applications for new shops is a direct result of the pressures the retail industry is dealing with at the moment. Consumers can now get all the products they need on the internet and, as a result, retailers are seeing less need to invest in their high street presence.”