Following last night’s, 24 January, decision by London Legacy Development Corporation’s Planning Decisions Committee (LLDCPDC) to give the 21,500-capacity MSG Sphere arena in Stratford the green light subject to a five-year review, the final decision now lies with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
The application to build the MSG Sphere arena, just four miles from AEG’s The O2 arena (cap. 21,000), was approved in principle last March, subject to conditions. In yesterday’s meeting, the Committee approved additional details relating to a five-year review and additional controls on the digital display on the façade of the building.
The proposed project has met with considerable resistance from Newham Council, neighbouring east London boroughs, the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the local MP, rail operators, Transport for London, Historic England, and residents. It has also been met with fierce opposition from AEG, which following the Committee meeting issued a statement in which it called on Khan to “uphold his election promise to do what’s best for Londoners, including the residents of Newham who are having this huge development forced on them, by directing refusal of the planning application.”
The application was lodged by US-based Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which runs the legendary 18,600-capacity Madison Square Garden arena in New York. 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. It is that 360-degree advertising proposal that has met with the most substantial objections.
AEG said, “The advertising façade is at a wholly unprecedented scale for London and totally out of keeping with the surrounding area. The design was conceived for the heart of Las Vegas and has been transposed onto this east London site: it’s the wrong design, in the wrong location.
“We have concluded that there are at least ten problems with the MSG Sphere’s proposed controls for the advertising display. Fundamentally, regardless of the findings of a review after five years, no matter how damaging and intrusive the light pollution is to the health of residents or dangerous to rail or road users, the advertisement consent will not be revoked.”
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.”