‘Stratospheric’ rates increases and rising rents are crippling small independent businesses in Notting Hill.
One hair salon, a stones throw from Portobello road, is now paying more in business rates than in rent.
In recent months an independent shoe shop, a tile shop and local institution Tom's Deli have all closed saying the rises have driven them out of the area.
Although business rates are set by central government, Kensington and Chelsea Council has the discretionary power to give discounts and hardship relief.
Where this is given the richest council in the country, with £180 million in reserves, would pay the difference to central government.
Alex Fetsis and Daniel Bernard who only opened Light Hair Studios in August last year are now paying £46,000 business rates on top of £40,000 rent.
Alex said: "We were struggling with the £38,000 rates so I asked the council for a discretionary discount.
“They said they would re-evaluate so they came to measure the salon and then said to us, 'sorry but you should actually be paying £46,000'. This now exceeds our rent which is absolutely crazy and is quite honestly destroying the character of Notting Hill.
“We are a hair salon. We simply cannot make enough money to cover these costs. Many other shops here are at least able to sell their product online. We cannot cut virtual hair. The council is squashing small businesses in the area because they are obsessed with the gentrification of Notting Hill. The rising rates brings forward a rise in rents."
Bhavesh Patel from Rococo Newsagents on Elgin Crescent said: "When we started the business here six years ago our rates were £16,000. These have now gone up by a stratospheric 75 per cent to £27,000.
“On top of this we're having to pay £53,000 rent. We're a newsagent selling speciality magazines but the business simply has not grown enough to support the incredible rises in rates and rent. We can't compete with the big stores like Kurt Geiger and All Saints. Which incidently are empty as this is not a high street.
“People do not come to Notting Hill for the chain stores. They go to Oxford Street. People come to this area for the independent shops and the market, selling things you can't buy anywhere else. It is crazy that the council do not see this."
Gareth Jones from the Alexeeva and Jones Chocolate Boutique next door to Light Hair Salon said: “The council has it within its power to help us but they choose not to. If it carries on like this the retail part of what we do is not sustainable."
Tom’s Deli, owned by Tom Conran, closed in October last year. At the time he said: "After 23 years, it’s the end of an era. But the area has become so fashionable, greedy landlords are pushing out all the individual traders.
"My rent has increased from £10,000 to £110,000 a year. Now everything is becoming faceless fashion shops. The powers-that-be should be doing more to protect small businesses that add colour and character to the area."
In 2011 the area also lost Kingsland Edwardian Butchers, a family business which had been on Portobello Road for 163 years, due to increases in rates and rents. The shoe shop next door, which is where a scene in the movie Notting Hill was filmed, has also just closed.
This comes as Sir Terry Leahy, former Tesco chief executive, has said the business rates system should be reformed and "probably scrapped". He told BBC Breakfast it "has not worked for years".
"It is an ancient tax based on the value of physical buildings," he said.
Sir Terry said in a "modern digital economy" with mobile phone and ATM networks, and online retailing, the system needed to be "completely reformed, probably scrapped".
A Council spokesman said: Although the Council collects business rates the amount payable is set by the Government. In its autumn statement the Government announced the introduction of retail rates relief for two years from 1 April 2014. For those businesses that qualify this relief will be worth up to £1,000 per year.
“All hardship relief and business rate discount applications are considered on their own merits and are only granted where the Council is satisfied that it would be reasonable for it to do so having regard to the interests of its Council Tax payers."