Angry traders in Summertown say their future is under threat after rents have almost doubled — and the arrival of Marks & Spencer has been blamed for the hike.

Three businesses have already closed in one section of Banbury Road, with the remaining tenants facing having to fork out tens of thousands of pounds to stay in business.

Hugh Howe of Lyster Hair Design said: “It does not matter what type of business you have — some time you have got to stop and ask is it worth it?

“We are just working for the landlord and the taxman.

“Good businesses will close down.

“Even though they are doing well, they are not making any money.

Mr Howe, who has worked in Summertown for 17 years, said: “I don’t think independent businesses can afford to pay any more.

“Now is the time to walk away.”

Justin Brookes, owner of parcel shipping specialist Mail Boxes Etc, which employs five people, said the rent on his shop was increasing from £22,000 a year to £43,500.

He pointed to the arrival of national operators such as the Marks & Spencer food store, coffee shop chains Starbucks and Costa Coffee and off licence Majestic Wines as being a major factor for the large rent increases, which were squeezing out small independent traders.

The businesses that have closed down are photocopier specialist Soho Systems, the Queen of Hearts bakery and, most recently, the Blockbuster video store.

Mr Brookes added: “All of these chains have arrived in the last five years when we had the last rent review.

“In this market, all it means is shops are emptying out.

“There was one empty shop two years ago but now there are seven or eight.

“The trouble is while our turnover may have gone up 15 per cent in five years, our rent is doubling.”

And Bilal Hijazi, owner of the Greek Taverna, which has been open for 25 years and employs six people, said his rent was set to increase from £25,250 to £49,000.

He added: “In the current economic climate there is no chance of me paying even £25,250 and this is not the right time to commit to any increase in rent.”

The businesses are now contesting the rent increase with landlords.

Richard Venables, director of VSL & Partners, marketing agent for the scheme, said: “The rent increases reflect the changing face of Summertown and are not being plucked out of the air. Well-known high street names are looking to come in.

“It all emanates from Marks & Spencer arriving, which changed the dynamics of Summertown, but what is happening is no different to any other high street.”

The row reflects what is happening in other areas of the city including the Covered Market where traders have been faced with rent increases of up to 200 per cent from landlord Oxford City Council.