London is set to see the construction of another huge purpose-built entertainment arena.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has approved the planning application, subject to conditions, to build the 21,500-capacity MSG Sphere arena in Stratford just four miles from AEG’s The O2 arena (cap. 21,000).

In a planning meeting at London Stadium that ran until midnight yesterday, 22 March, the LLDC Planning Decisions Committee voted six to four in favour of the proposals.

While it is a significant step toward the construction of the first UK venue from the US-based Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which runs the legendary 18,600-capacity Madison Square Garden in New York, the project must also be approved mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

MSG first submitted a planning application to the LLDC in March 2019. It said the Sphere will generate 4,300 jobs during construction, and more than 1,000 full time jobs. The venue was designed by Populous, the architecture firm behind Wembley Stadium. Plans include the arena having a programmable exterior ‘skin’ of LED displays.

The LLDC’s decision has been delayed several times, with the plans having met with strong resistance from local people and from AEG, which has called the proposals “seriously inadequate and flawed”. Among the many areas of concern has been the impact the programmable LED venue wall could have on residents and even train drivers – Crossrail said it could result in a “significant safety risks to the operation of the railway”.

An LLDC spokesperson said the proposed MSG Sphere has been one of the most complicated applications considered by the planning authority involving significant consultation with local people, businesses and other authorities: “The applications have been subject to robust review and a detailed officer report. Following careful consideration, the independent Planning Decisions Committee has approved granting full planning permission for the MSG Sphere, subject to conditions and a s.106 legal agreement securing a wide range of mitigation.

“The Committee resolved to grant advertisement consent subject to agreement on further additions to the proposed s106 legal agreement. These additions will be reported back to Committee for approval before the application is referred to the Mayor of London. The planning permission will not take effect until a s106 agreement has been signed.”

A spokesperson for MSG Entertainment said in a statement, “We are pleased that the Planning Committee voted in support of our vision for MSG Sphere. Throughout this process we have worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders, and are grateful for their collaboration which is reflected in our detailed proposal. We now look forward to progressing onto the next steps in the approval process.”