Hikes in business rates for swathes of retailers could lead to a “death of diversity” on Britain’s high streets, according to a trade body.

The Forum of Private Business has issued the warning as retailers prepare for changes to their business rates, which will take effect in April.

Thousands of businesses are set to see a sharp rise in their bills, but some retailers have said overall they will see a fall in rates.

The FPB’s Paul Cass said: ”One of the lovely things about Britain’s high streets is this mix of bookshops, independent retailers and grocers.

“My fear is this diversity will disappear, we’ll lose these lovely shops and be left with town centres full of charity shops.” 

Meanwhile, the disparity between rates for high street retailers and etailers has been highlighted. Under the new system, Amazon will reportedly see a fall in business rates at six of its nine distribution centres.