Three Rivers Council will write to a developer to seek their support in keeping rents low for shopkeepers.

A motion was passed by Three Rivers Council to write to Countryside and Home Group, the developer, to ensure they "recognise the service and loyalty given to the people of South Oxhey" by shopkeepers.

The council granted planning consent for Phase 2 of the South Oxhey Initiative, a £172million town centre regeneration, but traders spoke out over their fears they will have to increase their prices with the scheme's new business rates.

Trader Jack Overing, who will be closing his business JHD Barbers after 13 years due to the extra rent, had been paying £10,000 per year for his business but was told this will increase to nearly £30,000.

He said: "I am all for the development as South Oxhey has fallen into disrepair but increasing the rent by nearly three times is just not realistic."

The letter to be sent to the developer, as part of the motion, was to call for the proposed "exorbitant" rents for existing shopkeepers to be reduced, that shopkeepers are not asked to pay one year's rent upfront in order to secure their premises in the new initiative, and that the existing shopkeepers should be shown "the same loyalty they have shown to the residents of South Oxhey for many years."

Cllr Joan King, who proposed the motion, said: "The Labour Group along with many local people feel that the increase in rent is unfair to the people who have served South Oxhey well for many years and are still trying to maintain a service through all of the upheaval of the works being carried out around them.

"We now await the developer's response and hope that they will treat the shopkeepers of South Oxhey fairly and take account of the long service they have given to the residents."

Cllr King added that as well as the hike in rental prices, small businesses are expected to pay to fit out their new premises themselves under the new scheme.

A spokesperson for Countryside Partnerships South commented: "There has been extensive dialogue with existing retailers throughout the development process reflecting our commitment to the successful regeneration of South Oxhey.

"The asking rent for the new retail units is in line with market value, and reflects the improved trading conditions that will result from significant investment in the new shopping facilities and public realm.

"We have applied standard industry practice when setting our requirements for deposits. These are being assessed on an individual basis.

"A number of the new retail units have been offered to existing retailers before being placed on the open market and negotiations are now at an advanced stage. We expect to confirm the first contracts in the New Year.”