The row over the rent for the London Eye site heated up this week when the attraction’s owner applied for a judicial review to halt the imminent increase in premiums.

The London Eye Company is fighting proposals by the South Bank Centre to raise rent from £65,000 to £2.5m a year.

In the SBC’s annual review, published this week, chairman Lord Hollick defended his intention to raise premiums as “fair and commercial”, claiming it was in the public interest to raise the rent on the part of the land that houses Marks Barfield’s London landmark.

Hollick said: “The SBC is here to run a world-class arts centre for the benefit of the entire community and it would be wrong to show special tenderness to a private enterprise commercial venture seeking to maximise its profits.”

Hollick attacked accusations that the rent hike would be unreasonable.

He said: “In May 2005 the Evening Standard published a malicious story that the SBC was threatening to dismantle the London Eye and was seeking an unreasonable increase in rent. Both allegations are false.”