Owners of multi-million pound flats overlooked by the Tate Modern have lost their High Court bid to stop ‘hundreds and thousands of visitors’ seeing into their homes.
The leaseholders of four apartments at the Neo Bankside development on London’s South Bank claimed the gallery’s 360-degree viewing platform ‘unreasonably interferes with their use of their flats’.
Five claimants sought an injunction demanding the Tate prevent visitors from being able to see inside their flats by ‘cordoning off’ parts of the platform or ‘erecting screening’.
But lawyers for the world famous art gallery advised they simply ‘draw the blinds and put up curtains’ and their nuisance and privacy claims were thrown out by the judge.
Owners of multi-million pound flats (pictured right) overlooked by the Tate Modern (left) have lost their High Court battle to stop ‘hundreds of thousands of visitors’ seeing directly into their homes when visiting its viewing platform
Passing judgement in London today, Mr Justice Mann dismissed the claim, saying: ‘I have rejected the claim in privacy and I have rejected the claim in nuisance.’
Residents were fighting against the viewing platform built as part of the multi-million Tate Modern extension in 2016.
The enclosed walkway that goes round all four sides of the Blavatnik Building offers ‘360-degree views of London’
After the ruling a Tate spokesman said the viewing platform is fundamental to the gallery’s public offering, but it would be mindful of its neighbours in the future.
They said outside court: ‘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.
‘We are grateful to Mr Justice Mann for his careful consideration of this matter.’
A photograph taken from the viewing platform in 2016 shows how visitors can see into the apartments at Neo Bankside
The extension to the Tate Modern, which opened in 2016, features an enclosed walkway around all four sides of the building offering ‘360 degree views of London’ (pictured)
Guy Fetherstonhaugh QC, for the Tate, argued the residents were demanding the closure of a well-valued public resource.
He added that London’s Southbank ‘will no doubt have contributed to the value’ of the flats at Neo Bankside, which sell for between £2million to £19million.
He also said residents ‘cannot pick and choose’ which aspects of local developments they do or do not like.
At a hearing in London in November, the five flat owners’ lawyer claimed the ‘invasion of the claimants’ privacy is relentless’.
Lindsay Urquhart who lives in the block said: ‘It breaks my heart to think that on the rare occasion that I have forgotten to draw the blinds, and my daughter has been in the kitchen or living room, that people have been able to film and photograph my little girl in her own home and to upload the images onto the internet for anyone to see.
‘I feel as though my life revolves around the viewing platform’s opening hours.’
Her neighbour Gerald Kraftman, said: ‘I worry where the images [taken by visitors] will end up, particularly when I have children and grandchildren in the apartment, so I tend to always keep the blinds closed.’
Mr Kraftman said that ‘if this claim is unsuccessful, I feel, very regretfully, that I will have no option but to try to sell my apartment’.
The viewing platform seems to give a perfect view of Neo Bankside apartments (pictured)
Today a London Judge threw the privacy and nuisance claims out of court. Pictured is the inside of flats as seen from the viewing platform
A picture shows the central London location of the multi-million pound apartments (left), which sit on the other side of the River Thames to St Paul’s Cathedral (right)
The residents’ legal team argued visitors ‘subject the flats to an unusually intense visual scrutiny’, with some ‘using binoculars and zoom lenses’ to look into residents’ homes.
One claimant said in written evidence to the court: ‘When our blinds are open and the viewing platform is in use, we are more or less constantly watched, waved at, photographed and filmed by people on the viewing platform.’
Another said that ‘on one occasion, he counted 84 people photographing the flats over a period of just over one-and-a-half hours’.
He also ‘discovered that a photo of himself had been posted on Instagram to 1,027 followers’, their lawyer added.
He submitted that ‘the use by the public of the viewing platform makes, at most, only a modest contribution to [the Tate’s] performance of its statutory objects’.
He also claimed that ‘very little of value would be lost’ if visitors were excluded from the overlooking parts of the platform.
Mr Fetherstonhaugh, for the Tate, said ‘the claimants’ remedy for what they perceive to be a nuisance lies in their own hands’.
He added that the claimants complained about having to draw the blinds or put up curtains, but pointed out that ‘there is no right to a view’.
Visitors are pictured looking out across London from the 360-degree viewing platform
A photograph taken from the viewing platform shows how visitors can look directly into the flats at the Neo Bankside development on London’s South Bank
The Mail on Sunday’s Charlotte Wace on the 21st floor of Neo Bankside, showing how people on the viewing platform can look right into the flat