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Luxury-apartment residents who had ‘hundreds of thousands’ of people peering through their windows each year win court case

The viewing level of the Tate faces a luxury block of flats in London.The viewing level of the Tate Modern gallery faces a luxury block of flats in London.


  • Residents of luxury homes won a legal battle against a London art museum over its viewing balcony.
  • More than 500,000 people visit the viewing gallery each year.
  • Residents felt like being “on display in a zoo,” according to the judgment.

Residents of luxury apartments across from London’s Tate Modern art museum won a long-running court case on Wednesday after saying they felt like they were “on display in a zoo” when museumgoers visited its viewing balcony that displays a “360-degree panoramic view” of the city.  

Residents at NEO Bankside — a luxury-apartment complex with large glass windows beside the art museum — argued that “hundreds of thousands of spectators each year” are able to peer into their homes. Visitors on the balcony, which is open to a maximum of 300 people at a time, often take photographs, post them on social media, and even occasionally use binoculars, according to the judgment.  

In February 2020, a court of appeals dismissed the residents’ injunction asking the museum to stop letting visitors onto the balcony, where they could possibly look into residents’ homes, but it was overturned after an appeal to the British Supreme Court. 

london skylineThe viewing deck at the Tate Modern galleryoffers 36 degree views of London.

James D. Morgan/Contributor/Getty Images

The owners of the flats won the legal battle in a 3-2 court ruling that found that the museum’s viewing terrace, which approximately 500,000 to 600,000 people visit per year, was an invasion of privacy for those living across the street.  

Supreme Court Justice George Leggatt explained that he suspected the case had previously been dismissed because of the courts’ “reluctance to decide that the private rights of a few wealthy property owners should prevent the general public from enjoying an unrestricted view of London.”  

On Wednesday, however, Leggatt ruled that the Tate’s viewing terrace was a “straightforward case of nuisance” for those who brought the case.  

“It is not difficult to imagine how oppressive living in such circumstances would feel for any ordinary person,” he said. 

Luxury flats are seen from the terrace at the Tate Modern gallery in London in 2020.Luxury flats are seen from the terrace at the Tate Modern gallery in London in 2020.

Hannah McKay/Reuters

Three-bedroom apartments in the complex — built in 2012 on the banks of the Thames River — are worth between at least £2 million and £3 million, or about $2.5 million to $3.6 million, according to recent listings. 

There has been a debate around the court ruling on social media, as people critiqued the wealthy flat-owners who chose to live next to a large tourist destination. As one Twitter user joked, “Finally, justice for the super rich!” 

The museum’s terrace on the top floor of the Blavatnik Building opened in 2016, and the distance between the two buildings is approximately 100 feet. When the new Tate building with the terrace was built, the director of the gallery at the time said the residents of the complex across from it should put up net curtains.  

Those living in the luxury apartments, however, “cannot be obliged to live behind net curtains or with their blinds drawn,” the judgment said.  

While the terrace is now “temporarily closed to the public,” the case will return to the country’s high court to reach a solution between the Tate Modern and residents. 

“Our clients now look forward to working with the Tate as valued neighbors to find a practical solution which protects all of their interests,” Natasha Rees, a lawyer for NEO Bankside residents, said, according to Sky News. 

Read the original article on Business Insider