Cafe owner claims council is 'trying to ruin Hatfield' after rent hike
PUBLISHED: 09:50 16 February 2015 | UPDATED: 09:50 16 February 2015
The owner of two Hatfield town centre cafes has blasted council chiefs who are trying to almost treble the rent he pays for them.
Since 2001, Hasan Yonucu has been paying £10,000 for each enterprise, Erol’s Cafe in White Lion Square and a coffee shop in the neighbouring arcade, under leases agreed with property company St Modwen.
But the borough council, which bought both properties last year. told Mr Yonucu last week it wanted £29,000 per year to renew each lease.
The businessman, who lives in the Birchwood area, told the WHT: “They are going to ruin Hatfield.
“I am very upset.
“When I came out of the meeting I was shaking.
“If they put the rents up 50 per cent to £15,000 I would stay, but not £29,000.
“They will have two more empty shops.”
The council bought both cafes and several town centre shops from St Modwen after its long-term project to completely rebuild the town centre collapsed last year.
Mr Yonucu argues that although his lease terms are years out of date, his rent should only be increased after the council has regenerated the town centre, not before.
A council spokesman responded: “The council does everything it can to support traders who we recognise have a vital role to play in ensuring a busy, vibrant town centre.
“However, the council also has a statutory duty to charge market rents on its premises and Mr Yonucu’s rent, on one of the shops we acquired, had not been increased for 14 years.
“Many of the rents on shops we have acquired in Hatfield town centre are historically low.
“That is why reviews are taking place, not because of the improvements being made to the area,
which include work on Mr Yonucu’s units.
“At the same time, we are also offering significantly improved leases to traders.”