Residents and traders were given their first chance to view plans for the redevelopment of South Oxhey yesterday.

Three Rivers District Council hope to turn rows of crumbling social housing into continental-style flats surrounding enclosed community gardens.

The development will also bring improved green space, better community facilities, a 25,000 sq ft supermarket - equivalent in size to Tesco in Rickmansworth - and a new shopping precinct.

The 98 homes currently on the site between Oxhey Drive and Fairfield Avenue will be replaced by four blocks containing 520 homes with secure enclosed parking.

Of the new homes, 98 have already been earmarked for social tenants to replace demolished homes with priority given to residents currently living in the area.

Tenants in Thrive Homes earmarked for demolition would be moved to newly built homes while the development is taking place.

The council was unable to say how many new social homes would be added but an official said the standard requirement is 45 per cent of any development.

A number of others will be offered as ‘affordable housing’ or through shared ownership schemes.

Ann Shaw, leader of the council, said she hoped the cost of the development would be self-funding and would not require additional public money.

She said: "We are absolutely determined to provide things that people need.

"It’s not complicated and it’s not a conspiracy, it’s actually quite straight forward."

It is more than 18 months since the announcement that the 60-year-old shopping precinct would be overhauled was first made and follows several consultations with local residents which demonstrated strong support for refurbishment of shops or regeneration of the entire area.

But shopkeepers formed a pressure group to try and persuade the council that redeveloping the area would harm their business.

However Alan Head, asset manager for Three Rivers District Council, said currently 86 per cent of money spent by residents on shopping, roughly £24 million, is spent outside of South Oxhey, particularly in Watford or Harrow.

He said: "It wouldn’t be unexpected if that 86 per cent was almost turned round so you could have 70 per cent or 80 per cent spent in the area.

"South Oxhey is a massively underestimated area in an under-rated location.

"The station is key because it is a link to London and a link to Watford, there’s loads of potential and we are trying to bring the community forward." The council has employed architects Levitt Bernstein to manage the proposals on their behalf and project director Gary Tidmarsh said "We have been doing this for a number of years working with the community and we work to make sure what they want can be delivered, as experts we can advise them.

"As experts we can advise them on what is practical.

"Our starting point was the previous consultation but we have got to make it fresh.

"We have taken the key things that came out about keeping the heart of the community."

Security, the quality of shopping, and green spaces were all areas identified by residents in the previous consultation as in need of improvements.

Three Rivers hope an application will be submitted in 2013 with the delivery date likely to be 2018.