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Neo Bankside residents head to court over Tate Modern extension ‘nuisance’

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Residents of the Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners-designed Neo Bankside have launched a legal bid to force the Tate Modern to shut part of a viewing platform on the new Herzog & de Meuron extension

Five residents of the residential building, shortlisted for the 2015 Stirling Prize, have lodged papers at the High Court seeking an injunction preventing members of the public from peering into their flats.

The applicants say that their human rights are being breached due to ‘near constant surveillance’ from visitors to the neighbouring attraction.

The papers, seen by The Architects’ Journal, say: ‘The defendants’ use of … part of its viewing platform is unreasonably interfering with the claimants’ enjoyment of their flats, so as to be a nuisance.’

The claim says that visitors constantly view their flats through binoculars, and post photographs and film of their homes on social media sites.

By using a part of its viewing platform, shown in an accompanying diagram as a cross-hatched area Tate Modern is breaching European Convention of Human Rights articles relating to respect for their private and family lives and their homes, the claim continues.

It says: ‘The defendant, at little or no cost, could easily stop this invasion of the claimants’ privacy and home life.

The defendant at little or no cost could easily stop this invasion of the claimants’ privacy

‘For example, by erecting cordons, the defendant could prevent visitors to the viewing platform, or attendees at private events, from entering the cross-hatched area.

‘Any resulting “downside” would be modest: the defendants’ use of the cross-hatched area as part of a viewing platform does nothing to promote the performance by the defendant of its statutory functions; and, whilst views from some parts of the viewing platform are spectacular, the views from the cross-hatched area that cannot be seen from elsewhere on the viewing platform are unremarkable.’

The residents also say that the intense degree of visual scrutiny they endure does ‘not provide a safe or satisfactory home environment for young children’.

 

In July last year, Southwark Liberal Democrat councillor Adele Morris, who has taken up the residents’ concerns, met representatives from the Tate in a bid to thrash out a solution, along with Southwark’s director of planning Simon Bevan, Dan Clarke and James Henderson from Native Land – the developer behind Neo Bankside – and John O Mara from Herzog and de Meuron.

However, residents’ calls for the terrace to be cordoned off, or for a screen to be built at the residents’ expense along the viewing platform, have been rejected.

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

Neo Bankside won planning permission in June 2007 and the scheme started on site two years later and finished 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 as work began on the adjacent Neo Bankside.

It is understood Native Land did not raise any objections to the proposed terrace.

A spokesperson for Tate Modern 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.’

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