The owner of a new Plumstead Punjabi restaurant has warned it could close after being hit with a massive charge to help pay for Crossrail - and says other small businesses could follow.
Apni Haveli opened inside the old Woodman pub at The Slade last year and things seemed to be going well, with a small kitchen extension given approval by Greenwich Council.
But owner Bhupinder Tamana said he was astonished to receive a letter in January telling him he would need to pay a whopping £12,250 as part of the community infrastructure levy.
The levy, collected by the council on behalf of the Mayor of London, is charged on any space where there has been a change of use and where the building has not been occupied for six months prior to planning permission.
It costs £35 per square metre - leaving Mr Tamana with a huge outstanding bill which, he says, is now being ratcheted up by 2.5 per cent per day.
Mr Tamana said he would never have opened if he had known about the charge. He said: "Now, after a year of running the restuarant, I'll have to close it - I can't afford it.
"It's a new business, I'm trying to build it up and I've got four workers who are going to lose their jobs. It's going to be impossible.
"I still want to run it but, if this comes in and the bailiffs come then I'll be left high and dry."
The levy was introduced in 2012 and aims to raise £300m towards Crossrail. According to council guidelines it should be charged after planning permission is granted but before development starts.
Woolwich-based architectural consultant David McKenna, who has been advising Mr Tamana, said: "The general public doesn't know about this at all but it will be affecting other small businesses too.
"This would put my client out of business but no one seems to give a toss. They're just collectors of the money for the Mayor of London."
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