London - When you have just spent millions on a new luxury apartment, the very least you might expect is a modicum of privacy.
But residents living next to the hugely popular Tate Modern in London are believed to be considering legal action because the art gallery has opened a tenth-floor viewing platform that allows visitors to see straight into their glass-fronted living rooms.
Observers can see people lounging on their sofas – and even determine the colour of their coffee mugs.
Tate bosses hoped that the new facility, which opened in June as part of a striking £260-million extension, would have tourists flocking to take in vistas of the capital’s skyline.
But views of the interiors of homes at the Neo Bankside complex, where properties cost up to £19-million, are proving to be an even bigger attraction – and many Tate visitors have been posting their pictures on social media.
Such is the interest from gallery-goers that the Tate, which attracts up to 10 000 visitors every day, has erected signs appealing for the privacy of its neighbours to be respected.
The Mail on Sunday was invited into one of the apartments to experience the snooping first-hand. Large crowds about 100ft away began waving and taking photographs as soon as we entered the living area.
“It’s terribly intrusive,” said one homeowner, who asked not to be named. “I bought this apartment because of the view but now I have to keep my blinds down whenever the platform is open, otherwise you get people waving at you.
“If I had known what it would be like, I would never have bought a flat here. Now I think I would struggle to sell it.”
Southwark Council even sent child protection officials to the complex following concerns that tourists were taking photographs of young children in the apartments without permission.
Even one of the Tate’s security guards admitted: “It’s like Big Brother. I’m sure the residents aren’t very happy. I wouldn’t want to live there.”
At least 20 owners are now said to be considering legal action over the intrusion. Some owners have suggested putting up a screen over one corner of the platform to block views of the flats.
Permission for the Neo Bankside development was granted in 2008 – a year after the Tate applied to build its viewing platform. A Tate Modern spokesperson said: “We have been through an extensive consultation and planning process, and have maintained an ongoing dialogue with residents. At no point during this process were any concerns raised regarding the viewing terrace.”
A spokesperson for Neo Bankside developers Nativeland said: “Potential buyers had access to marketing material which showed the location of the planned viewing gallery.”
Mail On Sunday