London’s most famous market district, Portobello, in Notting Hill, is under threat. The Government and Central Rating Office has removed all concessionary rates for small businesses in Kensington and Chelsea, which is adversely affecting traders in streets such as Golborne Road, Ledbury Road, Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove.

The rates were increased at the end of March by 75%–100% for some traders, which is seriously handicapping small businesses that were already struggling in the downturn.

Nina Cuthbert, acting editor of local magazine The Hill, which has been distributed in the area for the past 25 years, says: ‘If the rate increase is not amended in the very near future, the area will become a ghost town.

‘This part of London has prided itself on its independent retail shops, its originality and its community spirit. With the congestion charge extension and opening of Westfield, this area has already taken some hard knocks. Now, with the economy in virtual freefall and credit not running through the capital as freely as it was, this latest setback may prove to be the nail in the coffin.’

Supporters of Portobello are planning a demonstration on April 18 at Portobello Market to raise awareness, and are also petitioning against the rate rises. To sign the petition, visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/saveportobelloandgolbornerdfromb

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    Almost 34,000 people have The traders say it was promised they could return to Lipka’s Arcade in the west London market once it had been “refurbished” by a developer.

    But the antique stalls were instead merged into a giant shop, now inhabited by fashion store All Saints.

    Marion Gettleson, who has run an antiques shop in the market for 50 years, said: “There are letters in which it was promised people could come back after work was done. That meant traders were willing to go quietly.

    “But when scaffolding was removed there was a massive, 10,000-square-foot All Saints in place of the stalls.

    “It is so utterly out of character with the neighbourhood it’s breathtaking.”

    Traders allege the development is improper because the developer said in his planning application that stallholders could return – something they say influenced the council’s decision to give plans the green light.

    The final development is allegedly taller than was permitted under original plans, blocking a view to Notting Hill.

    Planning permission is being retrospectively sought for a fibreglass shop-front erected without authorisation.

    Kensington and Chelsea Council say no permission was needed to merge stalls.

    Among the 150 antiques traders, many of whom have now given up, was a woman in her 90s who had run a stall for several decades.

    Remaining traders say the changes to the arcade, undertaken by developer Warren Todd, threaten the character of one of London’s top tourist attractionscentre.PETTYMARKET.COM PETTYMARKET.COM THE BEST OF LONDON.