Rising rents in Marlow’s High Street have pushed a much-loved gift shop to close down, while a 45 per cent hike in business rates could mean a hardware store could also be pushed out.

Huttons, which has been in the town for 18 years, will close its doors on May 20 after its lease came to an end, with manager Jacquie Mills saying it was as a result of “extortionate” rents.

She said: “I don’t think we would be able to survive paying the rent that the landlords are charging and that is very sad.

“The idea of closing down makes us really, really sad. It’s such a shame.

“We have got some very loyal customers. They are very upset too, and disappointed that we are going.”

The site, which is in the Marlow Conservation Area, is owned by Sorbon Estates which is planning to remove internal stud walls and rearrange the layout to make two shop units into one large one, as well as build a rear extension with seven flats.

It said in a statement: “We are obviously disappointed that Hutton’s has decided not to stay in Marlow.

“The property where they are currently, 79-81 High Street, has been earmarked for re-development for some time and we have been working with Hutton’s to try to find alternative premises but have not been able to identify anything which they feel is suitable.

“In every situation like this we try to accommodate the needs of the tenant, particularly where it is an independent that brings a different offering to the town.”

Hardware store Hunt’s, in Station Road, could also be forced to close after its business rate was hiked by around 45 per cent.

Owner Richard Hunt wrote on social media: “We received a colossal increase of our business rate bill.

“We contested this and WDC [Wycombe District Council] was so kind and reduced it by 15 per cent, leaving us a 30 per cent increase. Sadly this will not fit into our budget, and will drastically affect our future trading in Marlow.

“For all their money wasting they have an open source of income – just put up the rates.”

He told the Marlow Free Press: “It’s a family business and I was hoping that I could take a bit more of a background role next year as I’m 75.

“But now if I do that my son, who is the other partner, will have to get someone else to replace me and he can’t do that.

“My retirement is now on the shelf to keep the place going.”

The store has been in Marlow for more than 20 years.

Mr Hunt added: “We want to carry on trading but it is going to affect our way of life.

“It’s unjustifiable and immoral – we can’t cope.”

WDC said in a statement: “The increase in the rates payable are as a direct result of the national revaluation of all business rateable values, effective from April 2017, by the Valuation Office Agency. "Wycombe District Council does not set the business rates, we are only responsible for collecting them.

“We have helped many businesses since April 2017 with awards of discretionary rate relief, giving them time to adjust to the revaluations and increase in business rates while transitional relief tapers off.

“Hunt’s of Marlow applied for some discretionary rate relief in October 2017. At the time we made an award for the 17/18 financial year, in addition to awarding some rates relief for the 18/19 financial year.

“While we haven’t been contacted by Hunt’s of Marlow about their bill for the 18/19 financial year, as it sounds like they may well be struggling, we will contact them to see if we can give them any extra support.

“Information about business rates relief is on our website. We’re keen to support any businesses who might be struggling with the increase in rates.

“We would encourage all local business to visit www.wycombe.gov.uk/businessratesrelief to find out if and how we could help them.”