Tate Modern neighbours Neo Bankside head to Supreme Court over ‘relentless’ invasion of privacy

Kit Heren (12 May, 2021)

Their legal challenge has already been rejected twice, with one judge telling them to put in blinds

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

Residents of a luxury Bankside development are now taking their privacy appeal against the Tate Modern art gallery to the UK’s highest court.

Neo Bankside is next to a viewing platform on the Tate’s extension. Five claimants launched a legal appeal against the gallery several years ago, saying that the platform breached their privacy because visitors could peer into their homes.

Claimants wanted an injunction to force the Tate to close the viewing platform, built in 2016, or to put up screens to shield residents from gallery visitors.

The case was first dismissed by the High Court in February 2019, with the judge telling residents to put in net curtains if they were concerned about privacy. The Court of Appeal dismissed a fresh claim a year later.

Now the Neo Bankside residents have been granted a hearing at the UK’s Supreme Court, scheduled for this December, according to minutes from a meeting held by the Tate’s board of trustees earlier this year.

Tate Modern

In the original case, Mr Justice Mann said that while there was a material intrusion of privacy from 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.”

The claimants had complained of relentless intrusion from visitors to the popular attraction, saying they felt under constant surveillance.

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.”

A further claimant told the court that she went to the gallery and overheard a visitor saying the “rich bastards” who lived in the flats deserved the intrusion.

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