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Bankside tower turns table on Tate

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Tate Modern and the developer behind Philip Gumuchdjian's Tate Tower are heading back to the courts over the gallery's plans for a boundary wall to block out its future Bankside neighbour.

Southwark's planning committee this week confirmed Tate Modern's right to construct the Herzog & de Meuron-designed structure to protect its gardens from 'devaluation from [Gumuchdjian's] inappropriate development'.

But the Tate's director, Nicholas Serota, who last year fought and lost a high-profile battle to block the 20-storey residential tower, will find the tables have turned. Tate Tower developer London Town is gearing up for a judicial review into the 2m-high wall, calling for the withdrawal of Serota's permitted development right and wider consultation on the proposal.

Gumuchdjian said the idea of a wall across what could be an open public space 'flies in the face of all the statutory advice' including CABE Space guidelines. His own scheme was designed to offer free-flowing access around the building.

'Clearly there's public public space and private public space, ' Gumuchdjian said. 'The Tate considers the space around it as their private public space for it to patrol. It seems like a territorial idea.'

And London Town director Peter Harris added: 'Putting a ruddy great wall between them and us would not be considered a good idea.'

Tate Modern justified its action in a statement: 'In the event that London Town's proposal goes ahead, we are concerned about the impact of a tall building on the amenity of the public gardens and outdoor cafÚ we have planned to serve visitors to the gallery.

'We therefore consider that it will be necessary to construct a low enclosure on our boundary and Herzog & de Meuron has designed an appropriate moulded seating structure on the Western Forecourt side.'

London Town won the right to a judicial review just before Christmas, and the case will be heard within the next few months.

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