Luxury flat owners next to Tate Modern lose latest legal bid over viewing platform

Josh Salisbury (13 February, 2020)

The flats have floor-to-ceiling windows - but the owners complained that people can see inside their houses

27884Residents of the luxury Neo Bankside development have lost an appeal in their case against the Tate Modern trustees

Residents of a luxury block of flats next to the Tate Modern have lost their latest bid to close down the attraction’s viewing platform over complaints of being spied upon.

The owners of four flats in the Neo Bankside development had attempted to force the Tate to close off parts of its viewing platform or erect screening to prevent visitors from being able to see into their flats, which have floor-to-ceiling windows.

In an original ruling last year, Mr Justice Mann had dismissed the claim – and suggested residents could instead simply put up blinds.

At an appeal court hearing yesterday, the Court of Appeal threw out an appeal to that ruling, and also rejected permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Although the court accepted that visitors to the viewing platform frequently look into residents’ flats, sometimes with binoculars, it unanimously threw out the appeal, because being overlooked would not fall within the “tort of nuisance.”

This is defined as unlawful interference with a landowner’s enjoyment or use of their land.

Image: Tate Modern

“Despite the hundreds of years in which there has been a remedy for causing nuisance to an adjoining owner’s land and the prevalence of overlooking in all cities and towns, there has been no reported case in this country in which a claimant has been successful in a nuisance claim for overlooking by a neighbour,” ruled the court.

It added that Parliament could legislate for any further laws that might be necessary to deal with overlooking.

One resident, Ian McFadyen, had complained that the “relentless intrusion” from tourists on the viewing platform – completed as part of an extension in 2016 – left him and his family feeling as if they were in a zoo.

His son, Alexander, claimed to have counted 84 people taking photographs into the apartment over a 90 minute period.

Another claimant, Claire Fearn, told the original hearing that the first experience of people in the viewing gallery had left her “sick to the stomach.”

In a statement, the appellants’ lawyer Natasha Rees, of the Mayfair law firm Forsters LLP, said her clients were considering a further appeal.

The Tate Modern has been contacted for comment.


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Tate Modernneo bankside