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Latest London Eye legal battle ends with victory to South Bank

The latest round in the legal battle between Marks Barfield's London Eye and the South Bank Centre (SBC) over rent for the iconic wheel has been won by the cultural quango.

Those behind the Eye, including the London-based architects, who are major shareholders, have been fighting a rear-guard action over the last 15 months to get a massive rent hike rejected.

It has been reported that the SBC has increased the rent for the huge ferris-wheel to £2.5m a year, a move that could see the famous tourist attraction go bust.

But an SBC spokesman said yesterday that a High Court judge who considered an application for a judicial review refused the London Eye Company permission to challenge the SBC's 'decisions and conduct' during rent negotiations.

The judge had concluded that the London Eye's 'lengthy grounds were no more than an elaborate attempt to dress up what is essentially a commercial dispute as a public law challenge', the SBC said.

However, the spokesman insisted that a rent deal was now 'very close'. This agreement would achieve both a fair commercial rent for the SBC and allow the Eye to re-finance its operations, providing for its long-term future on its present site, they said.

And a London Eye spokesman agreed: 'Most importantly, over the past few weeks, rent negotiations with the SBC have progressed positively and have resulted in an agreement in principle that will allow the London Eye to remain on its site so that Londoners and visitors alike can continue to enjoy the attraction in their millions for years to come.'

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