Maida Vale caf� owner warns of businesses struggling to survive

The owner of one of Maida Vale’s best-loved caf�s says independent businesses in the area are struggling to continue as she prepares to shut up shop this Saturday.

Plan 9 coffee shop in Castellain Road has been open for four years.

Owner Kay Konop says the economic situation – coupled with a lack of support from Westminster Council – means small businesses are leaving the area and being replaced by larger firms.

Ms Konop, who has lived in Lauderdale Road for 22 years, said: “There are a lot of small communities like this seeing large companies move in and making small businesses leave.

“I feel I have been hassled by Westminster and the business rates have gone up to crippling levels. It just wasn’t worth it anymore.

“It’s not all about the money because we are profitable but the hassle has become too great.”

Ms Konop, who now plans to retire, says there were a number of reasons for deciding to end the business – one of which is the lack of support the council gives to smaller businesses.

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“We are constantly hassled by Westminster,” she said. “I appreciate that there have to be rules and regulations because it protects our neighbourhood. But I feel I’m being hassled for no reason.

“Westminster needs to stop worrying us about licences, saying that you can only have this many chairs inside and you can only do this or that.”


She added that she was “extremely touched” by the support and good wishes of residents sad to see Plan 9 close.

Last week, the Wood&Vale revealed that the independent Windsor Castle pub in Lanark Place will close after 150 years.

Dale Headley, of Lanark Road, is spearheading the campaign to save the pub. He said: “The general feeling is that the village feel has been slowly disappearing for the past few years.

“We are hoping that the few independent places that we have will remain – otherwise the character of the neighbourhood will be lost which would be a real shame.”

Speaking to businesses last week, Westminster’s business boss Cllr Daniel Astaire said that he wanted to pioneer more “locally-led growth”.

He said: “Our enterprise manifesto has laid out our commitment to getting out of your way on regulations.

“If you feel we are being too heavy-handed, we will stop enforcing – or lobby government on your behalf.”