Residents of a multimillion pound block of flats neighbouring the Tate Modern lost their High Court privacy challenge yesterday.
Five residents in the Neo Bankside development, just metres away from the Tate Modern, had launched a legal challenge against the institution’s viewing platform, which allows tourists to see inside their “extensively glassed flats.”
However, in yesterday’s ruling, Lord Justice Mann ruled that they had knowingly bought properties with floor-to-ceiling windows – and they could consider putting up net curtains.
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 court that the first experience of people in the viewing gallery had left her “sick to the stomach.”
The claimants had sought an injunction requiring the Tate Modern to close part of the viewing gallery or to erect screens.
But in his ruling Lord Justice Mann said that while there was a material intrusion of privacy from the tourists, there would be no claim if the properties had regular sized windows.
“These properties are impressive, and no doubt there are great advantages to be enjoyed in such extensive glassed views, but that in effect comes at a price in terms of privacy,” he ruled.
Residents could lower the solar blinds present in each flat, install privacy film, or even install tall plants in the winter gardens to obscure the view, he said.
“[This] will, of course, detract from their living conditions, but not to an unacceptable degree,” he ruled.
“Looking at the overall balance which has to be achieved, the availability and reasonableness of such measures is another reason why I consider there to be no nuisance in this case.”
According to Forsters, the leading Mayfair law firm which represented the residents, an appeal against the ruling is being considered.
In a statement following the judgement, a Tate Modern spokesperson said: “The Level 10 Viewing Platform is an important part of Tate Modern’s public offer and we are pleased it will remain available to our visitors.
“We continue to be mindful of the amenity of our neighbours and the role Tate Modern has to play in the local community.”