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High Court hearing begins over Tate Modern/Neo Bankside clash


The High Court has begun to hear evidence from residents of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ Neo Bankside in a bid to stop visitors to Tate Modern peering intrusively into their flats 

Five residents of the housing scheme are making their case to Mr Justice Mann that the art gallery should be forced to partially close the public vantage point on its Herzog & de Meuron-designed extension, which they say allows gallery-goers to look into their homes.

The complainants – known officially as ‘Fearn and others’ – lodged papers last year claiming their human rights were being breached due to ‘near-constant surveillance’ from visitors to the neighbouring attraction.

According to the claim, those visiting the gallery’s open-air platform constantly view their flats through binoculars, and post footage of their homes on social media.

The residents added that the visual scrutiny they endured did ‘not provide a safe or satisfactory home environment for young children’.


In 2016, a high-level meeting to try to solve the dispute was attended by Southwark Liberal Democrat councillor Adele Morris, the council’s director of planning Simon Bevan, key figures from Neo Bankside developer Native Land, and Herzog & de Meuron project director John O Mara.

But the Tate rejected residents’ calls for the terrace to be cordoned off, or for a screen to be built at the residents’ expense along the viewing platform – and the case has now reached court.

Neo Bankside won planning permission in June 2007 and the scheme started on site two years later, completing in 2012.

The original Tate Modern extension – then with a glass façade – was permitted in December 2008, and included a roof-top terrace. A revised proposal including a brick façade and the viewing gallery was permitted in May 2009 and completed in 2016.

Rogers Stirk Harbour, Herzog & de Meuron and the Tate have been contacted for comment on the case reaching court.

The Tate has previously said it put up notices asking visitors to behave ‘respectfully’ but was not willing to restrict access or use of the area.

A spokesperson for Tate Modern last year told the Daily Mail: ‘The design of the building has always included a high-level terrace for the benefit of the public but we cannot comment further given the conditions of the legal process.’

The case opened last week.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Sir Henry Tate has been described as a modest rather retiring man, so might well have considered the current furore very unseemly indeed.
    The Neo Bankside apartment building gained planning approval 18 months before the initial design for the Tate Modern extension - which subsequently gained revised approval 5 months later.
    It's understandable that part of the Tate design intent was to enable visitors to gain a panoramic view of London from on high, but that's surely not the same as being able to gawp at the residents of the flats in close proximity.
    In effect, this created an extra gallery, a veritable human zoo - for free, so the residents are surely entitled to charge for the value that they involuntarily add to the Tate Modern 'experience' - how about £1m per month?
    The Tate trustees, and their architects, might then reconsider the need for the close-up viewing gallery.

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  • When I walk past NEO I can see a fair amount of the apartments on the first floor... Could they bring a high court hearing against anyone that walks past?

    If you purchase a big glass box in the middle of a city, expect people to look inside.

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